Thousands of people have experienced demoralising waits for the care they need to continue to lead independent lives, often stuck in hospital – so called “bed blocking” – when they are desperate to be home. These frustrating waits are a stark sign of a care system which is creaking at the seams.
What is startling about today’s revelations by care campaigner Gordon Aikman is the extent of the crisis in the Capital.
The 400 people waiting for care packages to be delivered and thousands of hours of unmet demand for care add up to considerable misery across the city. The plight of those waiting in Edinburgh appears to be worse, in many cases far worse, than anywhere else in Scotland.
This is something that will weigh heavily on city councillors as they prepare to make the big decisions needed to save £160 million in the coming years. They need to ensure that these problems are tackled while at the same time balancing the books.
That is no easy task. The upcoming reform of health and social care services to create a single public service will be key. The reasons for this crisis, though, are deeprooted and not altogether in the control of the city council.
Being a care worker is often a vocation. It is certainly no easy task. But we do not properly reward those that do the caring.
If you can earn more stacking shelves in Lidl than as a care worker, then it is not just the extra cash and easier working day that tempts you to the supermarket – it is the feeling that your work as a carer is not valued. The problem is particularly acute in Edinburgh where there are so many alternative jobs on offer.
We won’t really see an end to this problem until we as a nation start properly rewarding our care workers.