Angus elderly who get care at home face a bleak winter after a stark warning of a staffing crisis in the sector.
Care bosses say they have been faced with a “staggering” rise in demand during the pandemic.
It has seen home care increase by more than 3,000 hours a week.
But workers are leaving in droves to take up hospitality and retail jobs.
The dire situation has led Angus Health and Social Care Partnership to issue an up-front apology that local elderly are not getting the service they deserve.
And they warn things may get worse.
It has left families fearing the impact on what has been described as an “exemplary” service.
The Angus situation mirrors a national crisis which has brought warnings the sector is close to breaking point.
How news of the crisis has been delivered
George Bowie, Angus Health and Social Care Partnership’s head of community health and care services has penned a letter to those who receive home care.
He says: “During the pandemic, demand for care at home services in Angus has increased by a staggering 3,000 hours per week.”
It has gone from 10,350 hours in March 2020 to 13,400 this September.
He says AHSCP and its care providers are facing two major challenges.
“Firstly, as part of an emerging national issue, as Covid restrictions have eased, some staff are returning to or taking up jobs within the hospitality, leisure and retail sectors,” says Mr Bowie.
“There is currently a major, ongoing recruitment drive…but new staff are only replacing those leaving.”
And he says the service has little or no capacity to take on new care packages for those wanting them.
He adds: “Secondly, and in common with many other sectors, there are significant challenges in maintaining staff rotas due to a high level of staff having non-Covid related sickness.”
What could it mean for those affected?
AHSCP say that in coming weeks or months:
- People may not get their usual care staff
- Timing of visits may change
- Providers may have to prioritise the services they can deliver
Mr Bowie adds: “We recognise this will provide challenges for you or your loved one.
“And it is not the service that we or our providers would wish to offer.”
What efforts are being made to solve the issue?
AHSCP says “new and innovative” recruitment methods are being made.
And time bands will be introduced for home care visits.
It means OAPs might see their home help within a four-hour window rather than at a set time each day.
Mr Bowie adds: “I understand this information will be worrying for you, but I wanted you to be aware of the pressures care services are under.
“I also wanted to say how sorry we are to be in this position and to assure you we are doing all we can to resolve the situation.”
One local whose father receives care at home said it was a shock to receive the letter.
“The standard of care my dad gets is absolutely exemplary,” he said.
“Some members of staff are like a second family.
“It’s the highlight of his day.
“This letter is a big worry but it shows the people in charge are at least being proactive.
“I hope there won’t be a big impact but we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Are you concerned about the crisis?
If you or a loved one could be affected by the Angus situation we would like to hear from you.
Let us know how happy you are with the service you receive and if the crisis has already had an impact by emailing email@example.com