Staff shortages could force care homes to close

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Scottish Care has said that there is a serious need to invest in nursing provision in Scotland

9th November 2017 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Recruitment issues could lead to the closure of care homes, a report has claimed.

Scottish Care has published a new report looking at nursing in the independent social care sector.

And the research by the membership body for social care providers has revealed that nearly a third of nursing posts in Scotland are vacant.

This has resulted in care home operators having to increasingly rely on agencies to fill their nursing rotas at an average cost of £434-per-shift (some agencies charge up to £1000-per-shift) Independent Sector Nursing Data 2017 has revealed.

Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, said: “Last year we reported that we were facing a significant challenge in relation to the shortage of nurses working in our care homes. 

“Despite strenuous efforts matters have got even worse in 2017 and we are now at the stage of many care homes being placed at real risk in terms of their survival.

“Paying exorbitant agency fees to plug a continuing gap is wholly unsustainable. Urgent short-term measures are needed, and require us to work with Scottish Government and other partners, to find solutions to this challenge.”

Theresa Fyffe, director of the Royal College of Nursing Scotland, said that the reports shows care homes face an uphill struggle to recruit and retain the nurses they need to ensure clinical care for patients. "The situation is now critical," she said. "When care homes are under pressure to meet patient demand, they often have no choice but to use agency nursing staff to ensure safe care."

The report also found that there has been a huge increase in turnover for homes, with 46% of homes losing staff in the last year compared to 29% the year before. Dr Macaskill said that further cost hikes are set to further increase costs and recruitment issues for care providers.

He said: “Coupled with the already negative impacts of Brexit there are growing pressures on our abilities to staff nursing posts now and into the future. Unless we are to be faced with more and more people stuck in hospital we need to seriously invest in nursing provision in Scotland’s care home sector.”

Last month, charity Bield Housing said it was withdrawing from care home provision.

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Although more can still be done, significant progress has been made including action to enhance the care home setting for student nurses and staff.”