Concerns have been raised that the number home care visits in Moray has dropped during the coronavirus lockdown at a time that has left some residents more isolated.
Health and Social Care Moray had 2,849 clients it visited during January – but that total had fallen by 404 by April.
The organisation, which is a council and NHS partnership, says the decrease is due to it increasing its eligibility threshold to prioritise resources amid a shortfall of available local staff while some have also requested visits to stop while they self-isolate.
However, Highlands and Islands MSP John Finnie has concerns about the disparity with other parts of the country with the totals only dropping by 18 in Highland and 33 in Aberdeen during the same period while other regions have increased home care.
He said: “I’m extremely concerned about the impact of these changes, which result in some having their support dramatically reduced or lost entirely with many then forced to rely on family members of personal care, meals and medication.
“The impact on the mental wellbeing of disabled people, particularly in terms of social isolation which can disproportionately affect people with disabilities, is a huge concern.
“While its vital that care is restored as quickly as possible, the immediate roll-out of online or remote mental health resources would be really valuable right now.”
Health and Social Care Moray raised the threshold for its eligibility for home care to “critical only” as part of its Covid-19 response to prioritise visits to the most vulnerable.
Yesterday the organisation said it continues to monitor all care packages and said it had already restarted some where there had been a change in circumstances.
A spokeswoman said: “Every single package delivered in Moray was assessed in relation to providing critical care only and risk assessed. Suspension was carried out only following discussion with each service user and their relatives to ensure alternative informal support was in place as required.
“The enhanced discharge hub continues to keep all packages under review. Care has been restarted or increased in line with individual need where there has been a significant change in someone’s circumstances.”