AN emergency revamp aimed at plugging chronic care shortages is set to land the Capital with a bill of more than £4 million.
Relentlessly rising demand for domestic support among elderly and vulnerable residents has resulted in 3000 hours a week in unmet need across Edinburgh, with a further jump of 2000 hours projected for the current financial year.
This means up to 250 individuals face missing out on the care they need and the shortfall has been identified as one of the “key risks” facing the city.
A £4.14m package of immediate measures aimed at bridging the gap has been proposed, including an increase in hourly rates paid to firms providing care from £14.09 to as much as £15.50.
Plans for a longer-term overhaul of services are ongoing, council chiefs said.
There is also a stipulation that care schedules remain in place for five days after a resident is admitted to hospital, in a bid to stop cases of bed-blocking where patients cannot be discharged because home-help is no longer in place.
Care leaders welcomed the proposals – which are in addition to the current £34m budget – but warned they may not be enough as an ageing population leads to increasing demand.
Becca Gatherum, of Scottish Care, a group of independent providers, said: “The steps taken by Edinburgh to address this are in the right direction. It’s crucial to involve independent and third-sector care providers to make sure that everyone is coming up with the right solution together and Edinburgh seems to be doing this.
“So we are supportive but we’re just saying we may need to be doing more. The hourly rate may need to come up [further]. There are particular problems in Edinburgh in that there’s competition with the hospitality sector and other elements.
“We need to be recruiting the right people and pay them appropriately.”
The projected shortfall in provision has come despite a 13 per cent increase in the overall number of care-at-home hours since June 2013.
As part of efforts to plug the gap by recruiting the best and most motivated staff, 50p in the proposed new hourly rate of £15.50 will depend on providers contributing to a 20 per cent expansion in care capacity by spring next year.
Leaders at Age Scotland, the older people’s charity, said moves to free up NHS beds were positive and would save money in the long term, but warned the future of services was still uncertain.
Chief executive Brian Sloan said: “Most people want to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Given our ageing population and the increasing numbers of people who have care needs, pressure on care-at-home services will keep growing. It is hard to say whether these plans will deliver the increased services needed.”
Councillor Ricky Henderson, health and social care leader, said: “Offering a higher wage will encourage carers to take up much-needed jobs.”