Across Scotland, local authorities and health boards are experiencing service pressures more associated with the winter. This has a number of contributing factors including higher than average vacancy and sickness absence rates. The Western Isles is in no different a position, although being remote and rural adds to the challenge. It is possible that winter planning contingencies, such as the use of agency staff and asking families to assist or assist further with some caring responsibilities will arrive earlier this year.
Elsewhere in Scotland, agency staff are regularly utilised to cover vacant posts and to cover for vacancies and sickness absence. For rural and remote communities such as the Western Isles, attracting agency staff is that bit more difficult as prospective agency staff would have to live away from home, making alternative living arrangements for themselves. It is proving difficult for agency staff to get accommodation when they are prepared to come and work in the Western Isles due to the very high demand for short term and holiday lets. The increasing demands on the service do present challenges in terms of the service being as responsive as it would ideally like to be. Services users repeatedly tell us how good the service is that they receive. Our challenge is not the quality of the service but the quantity of the service we are able to deliver. The Service is making every effort to address the issue in the hope that we can return to having a more responsive service, with greater consistency in terms of when staff visit to carry out their duties and also which staff visit. We appreciate that service users want consistency in terms of who provides their care and when. The Service apologises to any service user or family member affected by these workforce challenges at this time, including those awaiting a Care at Home package.
Care at Home is an essential and highly valued service. It is a rewarding occupation for those who have chosen it as career. It is to be celebrated that increasing numbers of people are living longer and remaining living in their own homes and we want to grow our workforce in order to continue to meet the needs of service users. If you are interested in a career in the Care at Home Service then please contact Mary Ann Maciver or Elaine McFarlane on 01851 822711
The Scottish Government is currently running a National Care consultation which will set out proposals to improve the way social care is delivered in Scotland.