The boss of an Ayr -based home care provider has told how he’s been forced to decline new clients — because of a staffing crisis in the industry.
And Mike Collier warned that the shortage of workers across the sector may get worse before it gets better, with current staff facing an unsustainable workload until a fix is found.
Mr Collier, who is managing director of Cairllum Care, says current staffing shortages are forcing care providers to grade patients and prioritise those who are deemed most critical – meaning more reliance on family members to fill the gaps.
Many current staff are working their days off, consecutive seven-day weeks and, in some cases, not taking annual leave to ensure elderly patients continue to receive their scheduled visits.
The warning came in the week the UK’s number of job vacancies passed the million mark for the first time, with a number of sectors suffering well-publicised staff shortages.
However Mr Collier, whose Cairllum Care business operates from the town’s Highfield Business Centre, says social care’s challenge is both under reported and very specific, with a pool of potential carers not available at peak times.
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He said: “The reality is it is worse right now than it was even at the height of the pandemic and lockdowns. There is just no public awareness of how bad the problem is.
“We have had no option but to hand additional work back to the council this week because the priority and challenge is to provide sufficient staff for existing needs.
“There are simply not enough people to cover social care needs across the sector, which is why the staff we do have are working seven days a week, working their days off and struggling to take any leave.
“We have vacancies, we have increased pay and we support our staff as much as we can to ensure they can provide the best possible care and make a difference.
“The sector needs more of those people now, people who want to make a difference. I could employ 10 people in Ayrshire tomorrow – but we just can’t find those people.
“The NHS is always talked about in glowing terms, and rightly so, however social care is treated as a poorer relation — the truth is they need each other to be strong.
“The social care sector urgently needs significant investment of money and of recognition in the short, medium and long term. Only with that is it possible to see this crisis being turned around.”
Social Care Minister Kevin Stewart said: “We are continuing to work with Health and Social Care Partnerships to provide support around the current challenges facing the sector.
“We have allocated an additional £380 million to health boards to help with costs arising from the pandemic. This comes on top of the £1.7 billion already provided to Health Boards and Health and Social Care Partnerships last year.
“We have approved funding to extend the my jobs Scotland recruitment website until March 2022 to all third and independent sector organisations, which will mean that all social care vacancies can be advertised at no additional cost to providers on one platform.
“We will also be running a national marketing campaign very quickly to attract more people to the sector, focusing on social media and working with schools and colleges to reach a younger target audience.”
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