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Moray social care system at a ‘critical stage’, says social work chief 

Moray has lost 386 working hours a week in its social care sector due to staff shortages.

Pressures caused by the pandemic are having the greatest impact on the most vulnerable people in Moray, according to the area’s chief social worker.

Jane Mackie warns a growing workload is creating additional stress for staff in the social care sector that is now at a “critical stage”.

She says if issues are not addressed there will be bigger gaps in the service and more distress for clients.

At the moment, 111 people who require home care are not receiving it because of staff shortages.

A further 148 are waiting to have their needs assessed.

Since the start of the pandemic the number of hours provided for those needing personal and nursing care at home has risen by 15% from 13,000 a week to 14,800.

The information indicates severe pressure widespread across the social care system which is increasing in severity and creating negative outcomes in the community and for staff.”

Chief social worker Jane Mackie

While 35 new social care assistants were recruited between January and September this year, and eight others had their hours increased, 34 left and 25 staff had their work time reduced.

This resulted in a loss of 386 working hours a week.

A drop in family members providing care is also impacting the service, as has an increase in the number of people with complex care needs and those spending their last six months of life at home rather than in hospital.

Ms Mackie outlines her concern in a report to Moray Integration Joint Board clinical and care governance committee this week.

“There is no availability across external care at home and most of the providers are at red status due to staffing issues and trying to deliver existing support packages.

‘Impact on Moray’s most vulnerable citizens’

“The information indicates severe pressure widespread across the social care system which is increasing in severity and creating negative outcomes in the community and for staff.

“The lack of social care service will have the most meaningful impact on Moray’s most vulnerable citizens.”

She adds: “While many families offered and preferred to support their family members early in the pandemic, this became increasingly difficult as time progressed.

“Isolation and loss of support to informal family carers created breakdowns in these family arrangements.

“The closure of most community supports added to family stress and, as alternatives were unavailable, to request for formal social care support.”

Recommendations to the committee on Thursday include considering stopping all non-essential work not connected to delivering or supporting front-line services.

Members are also asked to increased support for social work, more focused recruitment drives and additional support for workers.

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