Leading social care provider warns staff shortages could worsen

A leading Scottish care provider has said it is “in crisis” amid staff shortages and warned that things are only going to get worse unless something changes.

Andrew Williamson, deputy chief executive of social care provider Quarriers, said it faces staff shortages every day and that people leaving the sector is part of the problem.

On Tuesday, the Coalition of Care and Support Providers in Scotland (CCPS) revealed that an average of 52% of staff who moved jobs last year left the social care industry.

They also found that three quarters of organisations reported high staff turnover between 2021 and 2022.

Mr Williamson said: “We are now at a point where every day we face staff shortages. We’ve got staff working extra hours and we’re having to use expensive agency staff to cover shifts.

“We’ve got a duty of care to ensure anyone in our care is looked after, but there’s not a day that goes by where we’re not moving staff around and using agency workers. It’s hitting us badly.”

Quarriers employs upwards of 1,700 staff.

Mr Williamson said agency staff cost anywhere between 50% and 70% more than their own staff, with weekend and holiday premiums ramping the costs up further.

He explained that many employees are leaving to enter into other industries, such as retail and hospitality.

Mr Williamson said: “Part of the problem is there’s a lot of people leaving the sector generally as other sectors are becoming more lucrative from a financial point of view.

“Our staff have big responsibilities – people rely on our workers, and workers are realising that if they go to hospitality or retail, there’s less responsibility and salaries are higher.”

Mr Williamson said existing staff are having to work longer hours and extra shifts to make up for the shortfall, and that as many experienced care workers leave, newer care industry workers are under pressure to meet demands.

He said: “It’s not just us. Every provider I talk to is facing the same problem right now.

“One of the biggest problems we have is that the Scottish Government have made a commitment to pay all staff a minimum of £10.90 an hour.

“The money has been made available, but the length of time between them making it available and it actually reaching care companies takes a long time.

“We’ve still not received that money yet. It puts all organisations under huge financial stress.

“We are in crisis at the moment and without something changing it’s only going to get worse.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “We know the sector faces challenges and are committed to working with all partners to improve social care services.

“We remain committed to delivering a National Care Service to provide high quality care across the country and make sure staff feel valued.

“Over the last couple of years we have increased the pay for social care workers by more than 14%.

“We are looking at how we can plan for, attract, train, employ and nurture the workforce, working with Cosla on consistency of improved pay and conditions, improving access to training and development and ensuring a career in social care is attractive and rewarding.

“We are also continuing to work towards our commitment to increase spend in social care by 25% by the end of this Parliament, an increase of over £840 million.”

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: “Local authorities are responsible for paying for services at an agreed rate.

“The Scottish Government set up a Trouble Shooting Group in April this year to address any issues over delays in receiving funding to pay the £10.90 uplift.

“Issues that are brought to the attention of the group are investigated immediately to ensure speedy resolution as we are aware the pressures this can place on providers.”

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