Care worker recruitment crisis in Scotland

Care worker elderly web

Half of service providers in Scotland face difficulties finding staff, new figures have revealed

17th October 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Scotland is facing a crisis in recruiting care workers.

The Care Inspectorate has revealed that more than a third of social care services across Scotland have reported unfilled staff vacancies in the past year.

New figures have also shown that almost half of services faced difficulty recruiting the right staff.

Charity Age Scotland said recruitment issues are having a serious impact on care for the elderly in many parts of Scotland.

In the past year, 35% of services reported having one or more staff vacancies.

Shockingly 59% of care homes for older people reported vacancies, 57% of housing support services, 57% of care at home services, and 51% of care homes for adults.

Daycare of children services was the only main service type where the vacancy rates were significantly below the national average. Only 19% of organisations were in need of staff.

Keith Robson, Age Scotland’s charity director, said: “We’re concerned, but not surprised, by these figures. While most older people who need it receive a high quality of care, there are clearly problems recruiting qualified workers.

“This is having a serious impact in many parts of Scotland, with vulnerable people facing unacceptable waiting times for care. Many local authorities are resorting to delaying tactics as a result of budget problems or a shortage of care workers.”

The charity has said that the Scottish Government needs to work with providers to ensure that services are properly staffed and funded.

The Care Inspectorate report provides, for the first time, a national overview of vacancy levels and recruitment difficulties reported by individual care services.

Chief executive Karen Reid said: “Recruitment and retention remain major challenges in some parts of social care. The reasons are complex and not easy to resolve. Our report shows where recruitment is most challenging and spells out some of difficulties Scotland’s almost 2600 social care employers describe.

“With people living longer, and early learning and childcare expansion, Scotland needs more people to work in social care. Numbers do not tell the whole story - the skills, experiences, and values of social care staff are just as critical as the number employed.”

Theresa Shearer, chief executive of Enable Scotland, said the report highlighted the need for social care organisations to pay staff a decent wage.

She said: “Enable Scotland has long-called for measures to address the perfect storm of increasing demand for care services, reducing public sector funding and staff reward arrangements which are driving away high numbers of skilled professionals.

“Social care staff need to know they are valued for the essential work that they do. A commitment to paying all frontline staff a minimum of the Scottish Living Wage for every hour worked – including overnight support – is just one way of reaffirming that carers are valued. Achieving this would also support providers’ ongoing efforts to attract new carers and help protect the future of the sector.”

“As the Care Inspectorate report recognises, innovation also has a key role to play in addressing current challenges. Enable Scotland is always looking at innovative solutions to creating a sustainable and successful care sector. That is why we are proud to be in the final stages of introducing an in-house recruitment agency. This exciting and pioneering development has been designed to help us tackle the recruitment challenges outlined by the Care Inspectorate head on.” 

Recruitment issues facing the care sector

· At 31 December 2016, 41% of services with vacancies reported having problems filling them; up two percentage points from the previous year.

· Particularly high proportions of the following types of services reported problems filling vacancies: care at home services (64%), care homes for older people (57%), care homes for adults (49%) and housing support services (48%). Additionally, nurse agencies (61%) and residential special schools (61%) had high proportion of services reporting problems filling vacancies, although these percentages were based on a small number of services.

· Aberdeen (57%), Perth and Kinross  (52%) and Fife (51% of services) had the highest proportion of services reporting that vacancies were hard to fill.

· The main reasons for being unable to fill vacancies were too few applicants with experience, too few applicants in general, and too few qualified applicants.

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