Retired care workers are being urged to return to help the social care sector through the coronavirus pandemic.

Professor Martin Green, chief executive of Care England, has written to care providers saying the sector will need the “support of the nation” if it is to continue helping vulnerable people.

He is calling for retired staff to join the national effort, as well as employees, particularly those from the catering, hospitality and air travel industries, who may be without work.

And he is calling on other workers to take advantage of “Emergency Volunteering Leave” as outlined in the new Coronavirus Bill.

Providers are being encouraged to display a poster with an arm being flexed and the words: “Adult social care needs you…Our care home needs staff” as part of the recruitment effort.

Prof Green’s letter reads: “Many providers have noted that they already see rising levels of Covid-19 related absences.

“This combined with the already extremely high levels of vacancy rates in the adult social care sector has the potential to create a perfect storm for the sector.

“However, with your help we can act to avert such a reality and the negative implications it would have upon some of society’s most vulnerable individuals.”

The Local Government Association said the Government needs to consider how to help retired care workers who want to come back.

These include workers who support older people to get dressed, wash and prepare food – sometimes the only human contact that resident will receive.

Retired workers looking to return could be asked to contact their former employers, or be referred to the providers most in need of staff.

Not only would the move free up hospital beds, it would help councils look after the 1.5 million people identified as vulnerable who have been instructed to stay at home for at least 12 weeks, the LGA said.

Councillor Ian Hudspeth, chairman of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: “Making sure older and vulnerable people get the care and protection they need to stay safe and well is priority number one for councils.

“The recently announced funding for councils to support the most vulnerable will help councils do everything they can to ensure people are able to access vital care and support.

“The coronavirus outbreak will severely test and stretch our social care workforce, who already do a tremendous job in the face of extreme pressures.

“But supporting retired care workers to return to work could be a significant booster measure for the sector, to get through the highly challenging weeks and months ahead.”