Health bosses in Moray face a huge “concerning” backlog of occupational therapist assessments regarding vital home alterations.
Figures obtained through a Freedom of Information (FOI) request revealed that 429 people across the region are waiting for assessments.
Alterations include the installation of wet rooms and the lowering of worktops.
Waiting times stretch to a year
Waiting times for those on the medium priority list have increased from five weeks pre-Covid to one year.
High priority waiting times have not been affected, remaining at between one to 10 days.
Moray Council officials estimate it will take approximately two years to clear the backlog to pre-Covid waiting times.
Campaigners have raised concerns over waiting times.
Chris Bridgeford, chairman of chronic pain group Affa Sair, described the figures as “concerning”.
He said: “It is not surprising at all and the situation is not likely to get any better.
“These people are still needing the help they are entitled to receive amidst the pandemic.”
He added: “I don’t think there are frankly the resources there to tackle the issue.
“It is really concerning and it is the people at the bottom who are most affected as the list grows.
“It can be life-changing to get the equipment and something that everyone takes for granted.
“This makes such a difference for people.”
Hope more action is taken
Highlands and Islands MSP, Douglas Ross, said: “Having over 400 people in Moray waiting to get an assessment by an occupational therapist for vital adaptations to their homes means there is a considerable delay in them getting the equipment they need to live with their conditions.
“I hope we can see measures put in place to expedite these assessments and help the hundreds of people waiting for assistance.”
‘The OT service continues to work extremely hard’
A Health and Social Care Moray spokeswoman said: “We recognise that people in Moray face a significant delay in being assessed for adaptations to their homes and we are taking forward an improvement plan to reduce waiting times.
“During the pandemic there has been evidence of a deterioration in the physical and mental wellbeing of older people, in particular, resulting in high demand for community occupational therapy (OT) input.
“The number of critical referrals has risen steeply and these are prioritised by the duty team.”
She continued: “The OT service continues to work extremely hard to support increasing numbers of people with multiple health conditions and complex situations who wish to continue living at home for as long as possible.
“The complex nature of these referrals results in the OTs spending far longer working with each individual and their unpaid carers in order to prevent a crisis, keep people safe and improve their quality of life.”