A new care home is welcome, but the staffing crisis hasn’t gone away

Some time ago I wrote about the impending staffing crisis in our care homes and how the industry may face additional recruitment pressures if the UK leaves the European Union as potential employees from EU states might find it difficult to secure the necessary permission to work in the UK.

Wednesday, 25th September 2019, 6:00 am
The new facility will provide job oportunities in the care sector. Picture: John Devlin

This is compounded by the fact that people are living longer, placing a strain on current services and producing an ever increasing demand for care home accommodation as specialist care is often required and families find it difficult to cope with the complex circumstances in which they find themselves.

It was good news, then, to learn that Councillor Gavin Barrie will be opening a new care home in his ward at Telford Road a week tomorrow which will play a small part in redressing the balance of care home closures elsewhere. Northcare Suites Care Home’s £10 million development is looking to employ 90 permanent members of staff many of whom will be drawn from the local area and will range from nurses, care assistants, and administrators to maintenance operatives, chefs, housekeepers, hospitality staff and kitchen assistants, providing much needed job opportunities in an area where they are in short supply.

The company holds in-house monthly staff inductions which provide a regular opportunity for the recruitment of new staff as well as holding in-house training sessions, administered by qualified consultants which will assist in developing new staff in particular and holds out the prospect of a career in the care home sector.

Recognising the demands of the general population, the care home has dedicated its ground-floor suite to clients living with dementia, with all the staff having gone through an intensive training programmes to ensure that they can provide the type of care necessary to look after such distinctive needs.

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Unemployment statistics make for interesting reading. Edinburgh City Council’s Economy Watch publication of August 2019 states that unemployment rates are at their lowest in 15 years, falling to 4.1 per cent in the year to March 2019 which mirrors the UK rate, and that a total of 377,000 people were in work in Edinburgh which represents an increase of 4.2 per cent, or 12,500 jobs over the same period in 2017, with 77.7 per cent of Edinburgh residents of working age in employment in the 12 months to March 2019 compared to Scotland at 74.5 per cent, which all indicates that employment figures are going in the right direction, at least for now, although that will undoubtedly change if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.

However there are areas of the city where these figures do not reflect the current circumstances and unemployment, particularly among young people in North Edinburgh, is an issue which has to be addressed. Leith, Muirhouse, Granton and Drylaw are all areas where the relevant agencies have been working tirelessly to get people into employment and any new local employer, such as a care home, should find enough potential recruits to satisfy their requirements.

Northcare’s salary rates are above average and they are confident that they will attract the staff they need, but Scottish Care has warned that 77 per cent of care services have staff vacancies and 25 per cent have found it more difficult to recruit care staff this year – 44 per cent of care home services rely on the EU as a recruitment pool for support workers as the average staff turnover of 22 per cent continues to pose serious problems.

Councillor Barrie told me that it was great to see new employment opportunities coming to this part of the city and is delighted that the care home will be open to the public, with the Brasserie and the Beauty Salon available for locals to use. He welcomed the fact that residents of the home would be able to mix with locals and that they are not locked away separated from the rest of society, which can only help in creating a positive atmosphere for everyone involved.

The closure of a council-run care home facility prompted a reader to write in Monday’s paper: “The home was custom-built as a care facility and when care home placings are in short supply, it is appalling that property of this calibre is simply demolished when we all know of cases where family members who need care, have nowhere to go.” Then writer went on to label the situation “an absolute travesty”.

Of course it is desirable that the public sector, in the shape of local authorities continue to provide quality care for those who need it but it looks like the private sector is determined to take up the slack.

The private sector’s care home provision such as the new Northcare facility, which is on a par with a top-quality hotel, featuring first-class care professionals, dining facilities, cinema and a beauty salon as well as a pleasant friendly, family atmosphere, ensures that quality of life is still all important, no matter what stage it is at.