The Welsh Government will fund a £500 extra payment for all social care workers in Wales, the First Minister has announced.
Speaking at the Welsh Government press conference, the first minister said the payment provides further recognition for an often “under-valued and overlooked” workforce.
The payment will be available to 64,600 care home workers and domiciliary care workers throughout Wales.
It comes after an initial £40m of extra funding for adult social care services to help meet the extra costs associated with responding to the coronavirus pandemic was provided,
First Minister Mark Drakeford said: “Tens of thousands of people work in social care in Wales, looking after some of the most vulnerable people in our communities and are doing so with great dedication in often challenging circumstances.
“They are undertaking tasks, which involve a high level of intimate personal care, often accepting a greater degree of risk and responsibility. Many of our social care workers are juggling their own personal caring responsibilities with their professional ones.
“I want our social care workforce know their hard work is both appreciated and recognised. This payment is designed to provide some further recognition of the value we attach to everything they are doing to – it recognises this group of people are providing the invisible scaffolding of services, which support both our NHS and our wider society.”
Further details about the extra payment will be announced shortly. The Welsh Government is working with local authorities, who commission social care services in Wales, and with trade unions and Care Forum Wales, to finalise details.
Meanwhile campaigners in England are now calling on the Government to match the £500 bonus that the Welsh Government is to give front line care staff for fighting coronavirus.
ICG chair, Mike Padgham said: “This is a very generous gesture by the Welsh Government and it recognises the amazing courage that social care staff are showing as they look after older and vulnerable people during coronavirus.
“We very much hope that the English Government will follow suit and provide a bonus for all the social care staff facing the same risks and doing an amazing job here in England.”
The First Minister for Wales also called on the UK Government not to tax the extra payment, enabling social care workers to keep the full amount. The Welsh Government is also working with the Department for Work and Pensions to make sure it does not impact on people’s benefit entitlements.
The First Minister added: “We are urging the UK Government and the HMRC to make an exception in these truly exceptional circumstances.”
In addition, the Independent Care Group said there was still confusion over testing in care and nursing homes.
“On 28 April we were told by the Secretary of State that tests would be carried out for all residents and staff within care homes,” Mr Padgham added.
“But the advice we have been given today via communication from the Care Quality Commission is that tests should only be carried out on those with symptoms – which goes back to what we were being told weeks ago.
“The issue of testing has always been a difficult one for our homes and it has hampered our efforts to care for our residents and keep infection and death rates down. We need to have some clarity and we need it urgently.
“Sadly, as far as care and nursing homes are concerned I fear we are not yet at the peak in terms of deaths from Covid-19 and we are now the frontline in the fight against the virus.”
The ICG has previously warned that care providers are being hampered in their fight against Covid-19 through a lack of PPE and insufficient testing.
In a survey of members, some 53% said they had had challenges with testing.
The ICG has also called on the Government to provide better financial support for care providers amidst concerns that the £3.2bn pledged for local authorities to help them support social care is not getting to the front line.
Social care currently looks after 400,000 people in care and nursing homes – that is three times the number in NHS hospital beds. Social care looks after a further 640,000 people in their own homes.