Struggle to keep home care staff

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Recruiting home carers in Berwickshire “has always been a challenge” Scottish Borders Council admitted this week.

Responding to observations made by Duns Community Council that there was a shortage of home carers in Berwickshire, Scottish Borders Council said they had had a good response to recent advertisements of posts and interviews are about to take place.

Speaking at a recent meeting of Duns Community Council Mid Berwickshire councillor Frances Renton agreed that there was a shortage of home carers and is minuted as saying that they found it difficult to keep staff due to the distance they may have to travel between visits.

Job satisfaction and poor organisation of rotas was also mooted as a reason for difficulties in retaining staff, and acknowledging this SB Cares is currently reviewing staff rotas and shift patterns.

Responding to these issues a Scottish Borders Council spokesperson said: “Home care is now managed by SB Cares on behalf of the council.

“Recruitment of staff in the Berwickshire area has always been a challenge, both for SB Cares and for other care providers. The reasons for this are varied and complex but we do not believe it is the result of travel distance.

“Unlike some other providers in the care industry, our staff are paid for both travel time and travel costs.

“There has also been a positive response to the recent advertisement of home care posts in Berwickshire and interviews are taking place soon.

“For a number of reasons, including listening to staff concerns, SB Cares is currently reviewing staff rotas and shift patterns and will shortly be rolling out new rotas to ensure more efficient deployment of employees.

“This will also result in staff being given more notice for when they will be working. The feedback from staff who have been trialling this new rota has been very positive.”

The council confirmed that there had been a situation where a married couple were allocated two carers for the same visit. They say this was the result of two clients with exactly the same name living in the same housing complex, both requiring the same length of visits and that as soon as this came to light the situation was rectified.

The possibility of shortening visits to five or ten minutes was also cause for concern amongst Duns community councillors and the council replied: “The length of home care visits are decided by social workers through a detailed assessment and are based on an individual’s needs.

“SB Cares provides the care visits which are requested by social workers.

“There has not been any decision to reduce visit times below 15 minutes.

SB Cares, a registered Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) wholly owned by Scottish Borders Council, took over adult social care services, which includes home care services, in April last year.

Part of the reason for moving the service into a separate company was so that the company could provide additional paid for care services which would bring in revenue, something that Scottish Borders Council could not do.

All 285 SBC carers were moved over to SB Care which looks after around 900 clients across the region.