A single mum who has been looking after her severely disabled son on her own for years says she is “mentally drained” and at “breaking point”.
Donna Bain’s son Logan, who has cerebral palsy and autism, requires round the clock support – but there’s a shortage of carers for children in the area.
Before the pandemic, they had a full care package but it was pulled during lockdown.
Donna has had to rely on family members – including her 13-year-old niece – to get Logan ready for school each day.
She told STV News: “Logan is so funny. He keeps me going every day and such a wee character.
“We never thought he would do half the stuff he does do. He’s just totally changed – he’s been able to get more sentences out, we never thought he’d be able to speak. He’s a happy-go-lucky wee boy and cheeky.
“But he is constant – I wouldn’t have him any other way but it’s physically exhausting and mentally draining.
“It’s trying to find the right person for the job who is not just someone who’s being told ‘you need to find a job’.
“I had a great wee team during lockdown but a few were offered more money or other jobs and they’ve got to do what’s right for them.
“So since last year, I’ve been doing everything myself.
“My niece will give me a hand when she’s free, she’s been a godsend. My mum was helping but then she took ill.”
Logan, 12, attends Craigmorlich School in Port Glasgow.
Each day Donna helps him with his personal care, administers his medicine, gets him washed and ready for school and prepares his meals.
But she said she has developed back and shoulder pain due to lifting him in and out of his wheelchair every day.
While she has been given Self Direct Support funding to hire her own care staff, finding people to do the job has been difficult.
Staff turnover, unsuitable candidates and a lack of agencies that specialise in caring for children with complex needs are some of the reasons Donna has struggled to get help.
She added: “You’re given this money and told to get on with it – ‘we’ve done our part’. But there’s no support for us.
“How can there be nothing out there we can access that supports kids? It’s frustrating.
“I do everything. I just wish there was people that wanted to do the job. That’s the most difficult part.”
Kindred Scotland – who support children with complex needs – say the carer shortage is widespread.
Director Sophie Pilgrim said: “It’s really quite a big problem at the moment, especially for families with significant care packages are finding it really difficult to recruit carers who have the right skills and training for the job.
“A lot of our families are reporting they have funds for carers are just not able to find people who are able to fulfil that.”
She said increased demand, poor pay and conditions within the profession and the effects of Brexit are to blame.
She added: “It’s not just people who left the UK, there would have been other young people coming to the UK looking for caring roles. That has been much inhibited.
“We weren’t promising a secure future for people who have come here to work as carers. We need to turn that around and welcome people who want to come here to work.
“It’s such a great profession and there are career opportunities. The carers we’ve recruited have gone into nursing and teaching.
“It’s about making it more widely known that it can be a really rewarding career path for people.”