Scottish care home operators are warning that more needs to be done to stabilise the sector or large parts of the service will cease to exist.
Dr Donald Macaskill, chief executive of Scottish Care, who represent the country’s social care sector, told 450 delegates, including health secretary Shona Robison, that research with frontline staff has highlighted the increasing strain being placed on the workforce.
He was speaking at the unveiling of a new report on mental health – Fragile Foundations: Exploring the Mental Health of the Social Care Workforce and the People They Support.
Among the recommendations made in the report were an increased recognition of older people’s mental health as a human rights issue and a greater focus on the needs of those under 65.
Dr Macaskill said: “This report tells the stories of the hundreds of individuals who live with mental health challenges and who access social care support, often in old age.
“It highlights that for many, their mental health needs are not being addressed adequately due to an inherent societal ageism and a lack of adequate resourcing of social care supports. The report challenges us to do more as a society to recognise, support and care for those who are old and facing mental health issues. It is unapologetic about what appears to be at times a wilful disregard for the mental health needs of older citizens in Scotland.”
More than a third of care services across Scotland reported unfilled vacancies last year, according to a recent Care Inspectorate report which found that on 31 December last year, 35 per cent of services were reporting vacancies, up one percentage point ON the previous year.
Keith Robson, Age Scotland’s charity director, said: “This important research exposes the impact of persistent ageism combined with a chronic lack of resources and staffing challenges in our care home sector.
“ It’s unacceptable that too many older people are treated as second class citizens when it comes to their mental health needs. Whether you are living in your own home or a care home, you should be able to access health services when you need them.”
Shadow health secretary Miles Briggs described the report as “hugely concerning”.
He added: “SNP ministers have been caught sleeping on the job over social care workforce and allowed the situation to get out of control over the last ten years. Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership revealed this week that there is a staff turnover rate of 30-50 per cent for some local contracted providers within social care in Edinburgh.”