Vacancy rate on domiciliary workers 'worrying', Northern Health Trust board told

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust board was told of a “worrying” vacancy rate in domiciliary care during Thursday’s meeting at Antrim Hospital.
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Jacqui Reid, human resources director, said there is also “concern” over the National Living Wage which will come into effect in the UK on April 1.

Jacqui explained: “At the minute, private organisations have already reacted to the National Living Wage. It is a more attractive option to be employed by some of those other places at the minute. People may be feeling a bit demoralised. It is impacting on morale.”

From April 1, workers aged 21 and over will be paid a minimum of £11.44 per hour; 18 to 20-year-olds, £8.60; 16 to 17-year-olds, £6.40 with an apprentice rate of £6.40.

Antrim Area Hospital. Pic: supplied by Northern Health and Social Care TrustAntrim Area Hospital. Pic: supplied by Northern Health and Social Care Trust
Antrim Area Hospital. Pic: supplied by Northern Health and Social Care Trust

Commenting on vacancies, Jacqui said there are some “quite worrying” figures, particularly in domiciliary care where there is a 35 per cent vacancy rate and social care, 29 per cent.

“This is no surprise given the majority are low band levels. That is a worrying picture.” She noted although there is a regional review of recruitment, there are still “very high” vacancy levels.

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Trust board members were also given an update on staff absence. In her ‘Team North’ presentation, Jacqui said the main reasons for absence are stress, post-surgical mobility and grief and bereavement.

She reported a “plateau” has been reached for absence despite a time of year for respiratory illnesses and she said she believes early intervention is “starting to benefit how we are managing attendance”.

“There is a really big focus on trying to retain staff and stabilise our workforce,” continued Jacqui.

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter