A disabled Fife woman faced a day in bed as the region’s home care service comes under increasing pressure.
Kitty Walker of Lundin Links has multiple sclerosis and needs the help of two carers and a hoist to get her out of bed in the morning.
However, on Friday only one person turned up to help meaning the 66-year-old was stuck.
Meanwhile, 75-year-old Les Wooding from Pitlessie also has multiple sclerosis.
And his partner Emma has to help carers get him up in the morning, despite the fact she has arthritis, otherwise he would end up in the same position as Kitty.
Both say the lack of carers is a frequent problem for them and they are not alone.
Staff shortages, combined with a surge in the number of people requiring care at home, has resulted in considerable stress on the system.
And as many Fifers continue to wait up to four months for a home care package to be put in place, MSP Willie Rennie says social care is in crisis.
Kitty uses a power chair for mobility and is unable to transfer from it herself.
Her primary carer Jan Kerr helps where she can but has health problems of her own.
On Friday, Jan said: “I’ve just taken a call from the office to say that only one carer will attend today, meaning Kitty will have to stay in bed.
“This situation has been getting worse over the past months.
“I have been called upon to be the second carer on five occasions and have had to make it very clear I am no longer able to do so.
“I am physically unable to assist.”
Jan has no criticism of the carers who do turn up.
However, she says they are stressed and exhausted and added: “They are brilliant but some are leaving. A recent recruit lasted three weeks before packing it in.
“They’re operating under extreme conditions and there’s an issue with sickness.”
Meanwhile, Les is in a similar situation.
His partner Emma, 75, frequently has to step in as the second carer to help him both out of and into bed.
“She has arthritis and isn’t able to do this, yet she’s having to,” he said.
“The carers are absolutely brilliant and they’re doing their best but there’s a staff shortage.
“We don’t have long with them because they’re rushing off to get to the next person on time.
“They’re saying to bear with them but in the meantime my partner is struggling to manage. It’s getting beyond a joke.
“It’s happening so often that I’m worried that one day no-one will come.
“What will happen then?”
Social care under ‘incredible pressure’
Last month, we revealed how vulnerable people in Fife are having to wait up to 108 days for a care at home package to be put in place.
In the meantime, many are being asked to go to care homes until support can be arranged.
North East Fife Liberal Democrat MSP Willie Rennie said: “Every branch of our social care sector is under incredible pressure.
“It’s no surprise that many people desperately in need of help feel like they have been abandoned.
“There is an acute shortage of staff but that’s no surprise since the wages they receive are inadequate.”
Mr Rennie called for urgent steps to get the sector back on its feet.
And he added: “If we don’t, the crisis in social care will only get worse.”
Covid is having a ‘significant impact’
Fife Health and Social Care Partnership has already revealed a national shortage of carers is having an impact.
And an increase in the number of people going into hospital has increased demand as they need support to return home.
Head of community care Lynne Garvey said increasing Covid cases are now adding to that.
We want to thank those we care for and their families for their patience and support.”
Lynne Garvey, head of community care.
“The rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in Fife is having a significant impact across the whole health and social care system and the current demand for the care at home service is high,” she said.
“We want to thank those we care for and their families for their patience and support as we deal with these unprecedented demands.”
The service is taking steps to alleviate the pressures.
These include a recruitment drive to attract more home carers.
And Ms Garvey added: “We will continue to work with those we care for, partners and private providers and develop different models.”