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Government to seek volunteers for social care work amid staff shortages – report

Volunteers could do shopping and other errands as part of the programme being launched on Wednesday, The Guardian reported.

A close-up of an elderly lady's hands as she is helped to her chair
A close-up of an elderly lady's hands as she is helped to her chair

The Government is expected to announce a recruitment drive seeking volunteers to carry out social care work amid staff shortages in the sector.

Members of the public will be encouraged to sign up via an app for jobs such as offering support over the phone and ferrying medicine to people’s homes.

Volunteers could also do shopping and other errands as part of the programme being launched on Wednesday, The Guardian reported.

Services on the GoodSAM app include “check in and chat” to help those struggling with loneliness and “pick up and deliver” to transport drugs and medical equipment from NHS sites.

The paper reported the move is aimed at freeing up space on congested hospital wards by providing support in the community which allows patients to be discharged more quickly.

The GoodSAM app has already been launched but the Government’s latest drive forms part of the expansion of the NHS responders volunteer programme into social care.

Social care minister Helen Whately told The Guardian: “Volunteering was fantastically successful during the pandemic. We had thousands of people signing up and thousands of people volunteering.

“There’s a relaunch of the NHS responders (volunteering scheme) and then we’re adding social care on to it as well … Care homes and social care providers will also be able to assess and draw on volunteers.”

Latest data from Skills for Care, the workforce development and planning body for adult social care in England, shows there were 165,000 vacancies in the sector in 2021/2022.

This was up 52% from 2020/21, according to the group.

The move comes after the Government was criticised for announcing earlier this year that social care workforce funding would be halved from a previously pledged £500 million.

The announcement was branded a betrayal by charities, unions and opposition parties which accused ministers of broken promises.

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