Pressures caused by the pandemic are having the greatest impact on the most vulnerable people in Moray, according to the area’s chief social worker.
A growing workload is creating additional stress for staff in the social care sector that is now at a “critical stage”, and if issues are not addressed there will be bigger gaps in the service and more distress for clients.
At the moment a total of 111 people who require home care are not receiving it because of staff shortages, and a further 148 are waiting to have their needs assessed.
Since the start of the pandemic the number of hours provided for those needing personal and nursing care at home has gone up from 13,000 a week to 14,800 – an increase of 15%.
While 35 new social care assistants were recruited between January and September this year, and eight others had their hours increased, 34 left and 25 staff had their work time reduced. This resulted in a loss of 386 working hours a week.
A drop in family members providing care is also impacting the service, as has an increase in the number of people with complex care needs and those spending their last six months of life at home instead of being in hospital.
In her report that will go before Moray Integration Joint Board clinical and care governance committee this week, chief social work officer Jane Mackie said the strain on the service had reached a “critical stage”.
She said: “There is no availability across external care at home and most of the providers are at red status due to staffing issues and trying to deliver existing support packages.
“The information indicates severe pressure widespread across the social care system which is increasing in severity and creating negative outcomes in the community and for staff.
“The lack of social care service will have the most meaningful impact on Moray’s most vulnerable citizens.”
On Thursday the committee will be asked to agree recommendations to consider stopping all non-essential work not connected to delivering or supporting frontline services, increased support for social work, more focused recruitment drives and additional support for workers.
By local democracy reporter Hazel Lawson