Care homes ‘at breaking point’ as numbers drop by fifth in decade

Scottish Labour said the sector was on the brink because of a growing workforce crisis.

Care homes ‘at breaking point’ as numbers drop by fifth in decade PA Ready via PA Media
Scottish Labour has repeated its demand for the SNP to tackle the crisis.

The number of care homes in Scotland has dropped by 20% in a decade, according to new data released by Public Health Scotland.

The figures released in a report on Tuesday show that by March this year, there were 1069 care homes for adults, a fifth less than in March 2011.

The data also showed there are currently 40,632 registered places in care homes which is a 5% decrease compared to 2011.

In response to the report, Scottish Labour said care homes in Scotland are “at breaking point amid a growing workforce crisis”.

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Earlier on Tuesday, John Mooney from the trade union Unison, which represents care workers, told MSPs: “We’ve just come through a Covid-19 pandemic, we are now facing a burnout pandemic.

“We already have investigations into why there were so many Covid deaths, I am really concerned that at the end of this winter we are going to be investigating deaths as a result of staff shortages.”

A survey of social care staff by the union found more than a third (35%) of staff are either considering quitting or are actively trying to find a new job outside the sector, while 53% said they needed an “urgent break”.

According to data from the Care Home Inspectorate, 33 care homes have closed between 2019 and this year.

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The report also showed there has been a 10% decrease in long-stay residents in care homes for older people, from 32,545 in 2011 to 29,317 in March this year.

Scottish Labour has repeated its demand for the SNP to tackle the crisis by improving standards and ensuring social care staff are paid at least £15 per hour to reboot workforce numbers.

The party’s Social Care spokesman, Paul O’Kane, said: “Years of neglect under the SNP have left care services in Scotland to crumble.

“Now the growing workforce crisis has pushed services to breaking point.

“Covid and Brexit may have exacerbated these issues – but they didn’t create them.

“Years of mismanagement under the SNP left services on the brink and now we are seeing the consequences.”

O’Kane said staffing shortages are what is driving the care home emergency, adding “it is little wonder after so many years of shoddy pay and conditions.

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“We need to act now to give carers a fair deal, starting with pay of at least £15 an hour.”

The Scottish Government has been contacted for comment.