Staff vacancies in Scotland’s care sector on the rise

More than half of adult care homes and care at home services in Scotland have staff vacancies which are significantly above the national average, according to a new report.

Joint findings from the Care Inspectorate and the social services regulator Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) said “parts of the social service sector have particular challenges with recruitment and retention of staff”.

Staff vacancies in Scotland’s care sector on the rise

The study is based on the returns from 89% of 8,000 social care services across Scotland in 2017, which employed an estimated 179,150 staff. In the past year, 38% of services reported having vacancies, an increase of 2% points on 2016.

Care at home services (62%), care homes for older people (59%), housing support services (59%) and care homes for adults (53%) were the main service types with the largest proportion of services reporting vacancies all significantly above the national average.

Daycare of children services (23%) was the only main service type where the vacancy rates were significantly below the national average.

At 31 December 2017, the rate of whole time equivalent (WTE) vacancies for all care services in Scotland was 5.9% up from 5.5% in 2016. This was higher than the overall vacancy rate across all establishments in Scotland of 3.1%.

Gordon Weir, interim chief executive of the Care Inspectorate, said: “Our evidence suggests that having an effective and stable staff team is strongly associated with providing high-quality care.

“This allows trusting relationships to be developed between people providing and experiencing care, often supporting positive experiences and outcomes.

“The Care Inspectorate recognises that recruitment and retention into some parts of the social care sector remains a challenge, and we collect significant data about the places and parts of the sector where recruitment problems are more challenging.

“This report has been prepared to provide a national overview of the vacancy levels and recruitment difficulties reported by care services in their Care Inspectorate annual returns.”

Lorraine Gray, chief executive of the SSSC, added: “It is vital that social care continues to attract staff with the right values, skills and experience as well as filling vacancies.

“That’s why our work to promote careers, develop clear career pathways and professional frameworks for practice for social care and social work is so important. It all helps to establish social services as a career of choice with opportunities for gaining qualifications and real progression while helping to improve people’s lives.

“The data will be used to inform improvement and redesign of services in the sector to address the vacancy issues highlighted in the report. Good examples of this are nurses working in care homes and the National Homecare Contract (which agrees rates between local authorities and care home providers), the review of integrated children’s plans and child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and the development of the social care qualifications framework.”

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