Older people in Moray are being kept in hospital unnecessarily because of a shortage of carers to look after them in their own homes.
Moray is one of the first areas in Scotland to have a joint inspection of health and social care services for older people carried out by the Care Inspectorate.
The watchdog produced the reports as part of a pilot approach to inspecting services for the elderly.
The inspection was carried out over a 24 week period, with services graded against 10 areas.
Moray was awarded one ‘very good’, five ‘goods’ and four ‘adequates’ for the care services it offered its elderly residents.
The report praised leadership and management and staff morale, with inspectors observing good development of palliative care and care for people with dementia.
But the report found one of the most common reasons for delayed discharges – or bed blocking – was where patients could not go home largely due to the unavailability of home carers.
The report said for a proportion of older people, hospital treatment could have been avoided.
It read: “One of the key areas of improvement in shifting the balance of care is preventing hospital attendance and admission for people when their needs could be better met at home or in the community.”
Moray Council’s health and social care spokeswoman Lorna Creswell said efforts to put the recommendations in to place had already begun.
She added: “Moray Council is fully behind the drive to increase capacity in home care services and is developing a comprehensive plan to try and achieve that.
“The high levels of employment in Moray, while of course a very good thing for the local economy, combined with the demographic pressure of increasing numbers of older people, make this a challenge.
“However, we are determined to do whatever we can to provide the best care for people at home.”
Annette Bruton, chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said it was important to make sure agencies work together to support older people.
She said: “These new inspections are crucial in ensuring that services for older people are operating at the high standard which people have a right to expect.”