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Edinburgh's Social Care Crisis

Politicians in Edinburgh are up in arms about what they see is a social care crisis in the city. The situation is so bad that that the private care sector is sending frail elderly people to already overstretched council services.

According to Melanie Main Scottish Green councillor for Morningside and spokesperson for health and social care, after years of neglect, cuts in funding and lack of investment by national government, the crisis in health and social care is plain for everyone to see.

Services have been lost or cut back, staff shortages and long waiting lists have become the norm.

Delayed Discharges

The number of people waiting in hospital for a package of care – is an issue we hear a great deal about. At the start of the pandemic, numbers fell dramatically when funding suddenly became available, but they are on the rise again, with 140 people in acute wards in December.

But the little-known fact that puts the crisis in perspective is that almost 1,000 people are waiting at home in the community in Edinburgh for a package of care. And before Christmas, they were joined by a steady stream of frail and elderly residents, who the private sector could no longer look after and were handed back into the care of overstretched council services.

Edinburgh Integration Joint Board

This week Conservative MP Mr Briggs referring to the article by Melanie Main which reported that Council staff have been asked to volunteer for secondment to help plug the gap in the social care workforce here in the Capital.

A report by the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board, which oversees health and social care in the Capital, said: "Between September and December, alternative arrangements needed to be found for 83 people, totalling almost 1,400 hours of care.”

He said: “The Social Care Crisis which we see here in the Capital and indeed the demographic pressure facing our social care services must be addressed.

“Under this SNP-Green Government and this Budget, Edinburgh City Council and NHS Lothian will continue to receive one of the lowest levels of funding per head of population.

“There is however growing concern at SNP-Green Ministers plans to destabilise services further and the potential impact which could undermine fragile local services and accountability and make a difficult situation even worse.

Care Workers Pay

Melanie Main in her article applauds staff who rose to yet another challenge, but they are exhausted and demoralised. To add insult to injury, some council staff are working alongside NHS staff who do exactly same job as they do but have better pay and conditions.

And even though increases to the ‘living wage plus’ are very welcome, it remains the fact that supermarkets pay better rates for working in a far less challenging environment. It is hardly a wonder that recruiting and retaining staff has proved pretty much impossible for so long. That is why she supports calls to pay care workers at least £15 per hour, reflecting the expertise and skills of their profession.

Franks Law

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced free personal care for everyone who requires it, regardless of age, as part of the Programme for Government. This has become known as Frank’s Law after a campaign led by Amanda Kopel. Mrs Kopel has campaigned for the change in care provision since her husband, the former Dundee United player Frank Kopel, was diagnosed with and later died from early onset dementia.

Frank’s Law campaigner, Amanda Kopel, said: “I am concerned that even after almost three years since Frank’s Law was finally implemented, that there have been no figures collated on the uptake of Frank’s Law.

Summary

Even if we draw a veil over the political criticism of the Scottish government there is enough evidence provided by Main and Briggs to suggest that indeed Edinburgh is in the mist of a social care crises.

Nicola Sturgeon in delay in releasing figures on Franks Law is inviting criticism. It is one thing to have a policy on free personal care for the over 65s, and another in demonstrating that you are delivering it.

The call in Scotland to pay care workers a wage that recognises their skills and professionalism is gathering momentum. Across many fronts the implementation of social care policy by the Government in England is dragging it heals behind their counterparts in Scotland.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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