Staffing issues in care homes have contributed to COVID-19 infections amongst residents Health Foundation response to ONS data on deaths involving COVID-19 in the care sector and the results of the COVID-19 surveillance study in care homes (Vivaldi)

3 July 2020

Commenting on today’s release of Office for National Statistics (ONS) data on deaths involving Covid-19 in the care sector, and the results of the COVID-19 surveillance study in care homes (Vivaldi), Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive at the Health Foundation, said

'Today’s data illustrate the fragility of the social care sector before the pandemic – particularly in terms of major staffing shortages. This fragility is likely to have contributed to the scale of the impact we have seen, particularly in care homes. Findings from the Vivaldi 1 study confirm that those care homes using bank and agency workers, and a minority that did not offer sick pay to staff, have seen higher rates of infection amongst residents.

'The social care sector is characterised by high vacancy and staff turnover rates. Social care staff are underpaid  – around 440,000 directly employed social care staff in England left their jobs in 2018/19. Poor conditions and heavy reliance on agency and zero-hours contract staff posed a major challenge for social care even before the pandemic and exacerbated problems during it. Government action on social care in response to the pandemic has been late – the overall 'action plan' for social care was published nearly a month after the lockdown was introduced. It is important to recognise that longstanding political neglect of the social care sector has left staff and those they care for, fatally exposed.'

Media contact

Simon Perry
020 7257 2093

Further reading


Even before COVID-19, high workforce turnover rates posed a major challenge for social care


Even before the pandemic, staffing was the biggest single challenge for the sector in England. High...


Going into COVID-19, the health and social care workforce faced concerning shortages


The NHS faces a workforce shortfall of over 115,000 full-time equivalent staff in England this year,...

You might also like...


Webinar: What does the future look like for the general practice workforce?


In this webinar, we will explore the REAL Centre’s upcoming report on updated NHS workforce supply...



Health Services Research UK Conference 2022


The Health Foundation is supporting HSR UK’s 15th annual conference on 5–7 July 2022, contributing...

Press release

More than a quarter of GP and general practice nursing posts could be vacant in 10 years

Press release

Analysis from the Health Foundation’s REAL Centre warns that without urgent, significant policy...

Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101 copy

Get social

Thank you to everyone who came to see us at #LGAConf22! Here’s a recap of some of our resources: 🧱 How local gove…

Follow us on Twitter
Kjell-bubble-diagramArtboard 101

Work with us

We look for talented and passionate individuals as everyone at the Health Foundation has an important role to play.

View current vacancies
Artboard 101 copy 2

The Q community

Q is an initiative connecting people with improvement expertise across the UK.

Find out more