City-based workers offered £40,000 to plug social care shortages on Scottish islands

Social care staffing shortages are acute in rural areas, an industry leader in Scotland has said, as private recruitment firms offer incentives of up to £20-an-hour for those willing to relocate from cities.

One advertisement for a care assistant, from recruitment agency Randstad, offers up to £40,000 per year, or £19.40 an hour, to people based in Edinburgh or Glasgow willing to relocate to the islands.

While it is understood the advert relates to vacancies in the Western Isles, Randstad refused to give any more detail.

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Several similar roles in urban areas of Scotland are advertised for between £10 and £15 an hour.

Rural and island areas face more difficulty in recruiting social care staff, Mr Macaskill said.

The advert asks jobseekers if they are “tired of looking at their own four walls” and “ready to have an adventure and get paid up to £19 per hour while doing it”.

"Randstad are looking for experienced care assistants to travel to remote Scottish islands and provide support in their care homes and community care,” the advert reads.

"What better way to get a change of scene at this time? This amazing opportunity is a great way to gain valuable experience for your CV and take advantage of excellent pay rates.”

Donald Mackaskill, CEO of Scottish Care, said it is not unusual for large rewards to be used as an incentive to boost the social care workforce in rural areas.

This workforce is under particular strain, he said, due to Brexit, social care staff moving into nursing, and poor transport infrastructure in rural areas creating barriers for workers.

Brexit-related immigration rules have resulted in a diminished hospitality workforce, which has led to people leaving social care for the better pay and conditions in that sector, he said.

He added that increasing numbers of staff have also left in favour of the stability of nursing, where there are also shortages.

“Some of the larger organisations offering social care have always struggled to recruit into remote areas, and have incentivized people with accommodation and additional packages in order to move them into those geographical areas,” he said.

“That is simply because in many island communities, even if everybody worked in social care there wouldn't be enough people to work in social care, because the population levels are what they are.

“That’s why the immigration issue becomes all the more significant, because we’re simply not a nation that's got enough people to do what we want to do without attracting more of a population.”

The Western Isles Health and Social Care Partnership is facing recruitment challenges.

A spokesperson said the partnership is considering methods of combating this, including making accommodation in the Western Isles more accessible for new workers who have relocated.

“Recruitment into social care posts is particularly challenging at the moment, possibly more so than areas with a young demographic,” they said.

"We are currently looking at further incentives to work in the social care sector, including a solution to the compounding factor of potential recruits into social care struggling to find suitable and affordable accommodation in the Western Isles.”

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