Care home bosses have criticised an NHS recruitment drive for taking staff away from the sector.
New jobs with the health service have seen vital workers leave in their droves, according to Scottish Care, the industry body for independent homes.
They warned there were 5000 vacancies in Scotland, meaning many care homes were currently unable to take on more residents, putting even more pressure on the NHS.
And they fear an ageing population and the impact of Brexit on hiring new staff from overseas will make the problem even worse.
“If our care homes cannot function because staff go to the NHS, the NHS collapses,” Scottish Care chief executive Donald Macaskill told STV News.
“We need politicians and strategists working together. You cannot just fix one part of the system and expect the rest to run efficiently.”
‘Awful – that’s the word’
Among the care homes having to turn away new residents is Erskine in Bishopton, Renfrewshire, which has closed down 30 rooms due to a lack of staff.
Derek T Barron, Erskine’s director of care, believes the sector is in the midst of its biggest ever workforce crisis.
And that is a sentiment shared by staff.
Care home nurse Roisin Black said: “I don’t think anyone feels they have recovered from the pandemic, it’s continuous.
“When you ask staff how things are going with the staffing shortages, they say ‘awful’ – that’s the word.
“I understand why the NHS needs to recruit, but we should be thinking of the whole system, otherwise it’s short-sighted and self-defeating.
“We haven’t taken anyone into this home since September.”
What is the Scottish Government saying?
“We are grateful to all our social care staff who have shown incredible dedication throughout the pandemic.
“We’re committed to improving the experience of the workforce, including improving fair work that we know is crucial to addressing long standing recruitment issues in the sector.
As part of the draft 2022-23 budget announcement, we announced that the minimum wage for those providing Adult Social Care will rise to £10.50 per hour.
“Last month we launched a national marketing campaign to attract more people to the sector, doing things differently to previous campaigns, focusing on social media, a younger target audience, working with schools and colleges and highlighting the career pathways and development being introduced in the sector.
“There has been a strong response from applicants from all sectors of the economy, including applicants new to health and social care.”
“Our £300m NHS and care winter package contains £62m for care-at-home services.”
Analysis: ‘Just not enough of them’
By politics reporter Laura Alderman
Staff at the care home in Bishopton don’t stop for a minute. They’re responsible for creating a warm, homely environment, and delivering specialist medical care to the most vulnerable.
The problem is, there’s just not enough of them.
Social care is in the midst of its biggest-ever workforce crisis and staff on the ground are exhausted.
They say a new NHS recruitment drive has compounded the problem, as care home nurses are leaving the sector in droves for better pay, better conditions and, sadly, more respect.
With a growing, ageing population, the demand for care is rising sharply. Those most in need will suffer.