Care homes facing staffing crisis amid recruitment woe

Care homes are facing a staffing crisis.
Care homes are facing a staffing crisis.
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A GROWING staffing “crisis” in Scotland’s care homes is hitting provision and contributing to hospital bed blocking, an industry body has warned.

New figures released by private and voluntary social care representative organisation Scottish Care uncovered evidence of major problems in recruiting and retaining staff.

A care home crisis is contributing to hospital bed blocking. Picture; Greg Macvean

A care home crisis is contributing to hospital bed blocking. Picture; Greg Macvean

The survey of around 250 care services looking after 25,000 older people across Scotland found more than three quarters of care homes (77 per cent) have staff vacancies and almost nine in ten (89 per cent) of care at home and housing support services have positions lying empty.

A quarter of independent care homes surveyed found it more difficult to recruit care staff this year while 64 per cent found it as difficult as the previous year.

The survey, carried out in January and February this year, found more than one in five (22 per cent) of staff leave each year on average and 44 per cent of the homes rely on recruiting support workers from the European Union.

The position for care at home services was similarly bleak, with 90 per cent of organisations reporting difficulty 
filling support worker vacancies. More than half (58 per cent) said recruitment is harder this year than last and only three per cent said it was easier.

A third of staff leave annually and around one in ten of all staff are from the European Union.

Scottish Care chief executive Dr Donald Macaskill said the “worrying” results have been worsening since 2015 and are leaving gaps in care and increasing delayed discharge from hospitals.

He said: “The recruitment and retention crisis facing the care sector makes the planning and delivery of reliable, high quality and sustainable care very difficult for care providers.

“However, it also means that individuals in receipt of services have their choices compromised, whether that is in terms of who they want to deliver their care and when, or whether they even receive a care service at all.

“We know that the lack of staff is directly impacting on services’ ability to support people most in need, including those who are ready to be discharged from hospitals.

“Providers are regularly having to turn down care packages because they simply do not have the staff to deliver this care.”

He said introduction of the Scottish Living Wage – £8.45 per hour – for care workers last October was a first step by the Scottish Government but more needed to be done.