Social care provides invaluable support to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities but it is also the invisible scaffolding, which supports our NHS and our wider society.
During the coronavirus pandemic, social care staff have provided exceptional care – in people’s homes and in care homes throughout Wales. In recognition of that contribution, we announced last month a special, one-off payment of £500 for all care home and domiciliary care workers.
Following the announcement, we have had extensive discussions with employers, local authorities and trade unions about the payment. I am pleased to announce it will be extended to all ancillary staff working in residential homes that have played an active role in supporting the provision of care.
Care homes operate as large households and a wide range of staff have developed valued relationships with residents and have contributed to their care and wellbeing during the coronavirus pandemic – kitchen and domestic staff, for example have helped out during this crisis, providing vital support and friendship for residents when relatives have been unable to visit. Activity co-ordinators have continued to engage and occupy residents in entertaining and meaningful activities. Nursing staff employed by the care home will also be included.
Care homes comprise those registered to care for older adults, younger adults and children. This includes the secure accommodation service for children and those residential special schools registered as care homes with Care Inspectorate Wales.
Domiciliary care workers and personal assistants, who are providing care to the most vulnerable people in Wales, are also included in the scheme.
The payment will be a one-off flat rate payment for those in eligible jobs between 15 March and 31 May and is the same irrespective of the number of hours they worked.
This payment is designed to acknowledge the contribution of social care staff who have worked during this critical period.
We are working to get this payment to the social care workforce as quickly as possible and are continuing to work with local authorities, Care Forum Wales and trade unions to finalise the details of how this money will be delivered. The diverse nature of the social care sector means those eligible will not all receive the payment on the same day. We are also continuing discussions with the UK Government, to clarify the tax and national insurance implications.
We remain committed to ensuring the sustainability of the social care sector and will establish a Social Care Fair Work Forum in collaboration with our social partners. It will be tasked with considering what further steps should be taken to deliver fair work in the medium and longer term across the social care sector in Wales.