Today’s columnist, Donna Pierpoint: Living Wage will cause crisis

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Care assistants make up by far the largest percentage of care home employees across the UK.

They are the backbone of the industry and perform an invaluable roll for tens of thousands of residents.

These people carry out their jobs with unwavering compassion for residents who, in the most part, would rather not be in the situation where others have to look after their most basic needs.

For all their skill and empathy, they are usually only paid the minimum wage.

But that is all set to change next year, as from April 1 any care worker over the age of 25 will be entitled to the Government’s new Living Wage of £7.20 an hour.

Most would argue they are worth it, but has anyone sat back and thought about the knock-on affect on the industry following the massive increase in wage bills?

An average of 60 per cent of income goes on staffing in care homes, at Broomgrove it is nearer 80 per cent due to a higher proportion of staff.

If providers are forced to cut staffing levels as a result of the wage bill increase then the standards of care will significantly drop.

No care provider wants this to happen. Some care homes may be forced to close altogether.

The move puts the industry in an impossible situation. Where is the extra money going to come from to allow employers to pay the Living Wage?

Unless the overall budget for care homes is increased, people may not receive the care they need.

Local Authorities and NHS do part-fund care home places, but residents and their relatives are expected to pay a share.

Britain wants the Government to establish a Living Wage, but this can only be done when they fund care for its elderly population properly.

Nobody in Government seems to understand that the current level of local authority/NHS funding is totally inadequate.

If more money isn’t given to care homes, they will have to rely on the elderly resident or relatives contributing an even larger share.

If I had it my way every elderly resident in the UK would be entitled to free care.

We spend our entire career paying into the NHS but at the point in our life when we most need their help, we have to pay.

* Donna Pierpoint, manager of Broomgrove Nursing Home