CARERS: Move towards a professional career model.

Crosslet House care home in Dumbarton.

By Bill Heaney

The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on home care has been revealed following an online survey by the Scottish Parliament’s Health and Sport Committee.

Published today, the survey found that 54% of recipients of home care saw their care either reduced or stopped completely. In one instance, a respondent reported having their care stopped for more than six months.  Reduction in care was a recurring theme from respondents with families feeling that they were “left to get on with it”.

The survey, which ran during August and September, sought to hear the experiences of both carers and care recipients during the pandemic. Key concerns raised include:

  • In the event of a second wave, the most important issue for those surveyed was safety. They told us it was vital to have access to appropriate PPE as well as frequent testing, and that carers should receive adequate training in both infection control and social distancing.
  • Additional pressures and a loss of routine led to increased anxiety for unpaid carers, who stressed the need for respite. Respondents felt “mentally exhausted” and “frightened to let staff back into their homes”.
  • It was agreed that there needs to be greater recognition of unpaid carers who were often “left to pick up the slack”. There were calls for more support and financial help as well as a ‘professionalisation’ of the system, with a move towards a professional career model.
  • A fear of services shutting down again left respondents feeling determined to “not be forgotten about” or “left to manage entirely on [their] own”.  They called for the continuity of care services and care packages to remain in place in the event of future outbreaks.

Speaking as the findings of the survey were published, Committee Convener Lewis Macdonald MSP said:

“The first wave of Covid-19 had a devastating impact on the social care sector in Scotland. Now that we’re in the midst of a second wave, and continuing national restrictions, it is vital that we hear the voices of home care workers and those receiving care at home across the country. These findings are deeply concerning suggesting over 50% of those receiving care at home saw their care reduced or stopped completely during the pandemic.

“Other concerns raised around mental health, safety, and the prospect of care shutting down again, make it clear that things must improve.

“The Committee recognises the hard work of carers, paid and unpaid, who have gone above and beyond during this unprecedented challenge and we also want to thank all those who took part in the survey for sharing their experiences in what are still very difficult times.”

Meanwhile, the public can learn more about the work of the Health and Sport Committee on the Scottish Parliament website

As part of their scrutiny of social care in Scotland, the Health and Sport Committee at the Scottish Parliament carried out an online survey to receive views from people who provide, or receive, care and support at home.

The survey was initiated to understand the impact of Covid-19 on those delivering and receiving care at home services, and what issues the pandemic has highlighted, improved, or made worse.

The survey ran from 10 August 2020 to 7 September 2020 and the Committee received 723 responses. 415 respondents were family members of those receiving care at home and unpaid carers, with 93 responses from individuals receiving care.

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