Action needed to resolve Scotland’s nursing and care staffing crisis

Over the past couple of weeks there’s been another media storm about the severe staffing shortages affecting care homes and hospitals.

New figures by Scottish Care reveal that the majority of Scotland’s care services have care worker vacancies and enormous difficulty trying to fill them.

There are also reports of a critical shortage of nurses in the system, with many areas of Scotland struggling to recruit the nurses they need, particularly as more nursing is becoming community-based.

At Leuchie House, we are far from immune from these staffing pressures. We have to work hard to recruit the nursing and care staff we need and who meet the exacting standards of our five star service. The bottom line is that there just aren’t enough of either to meet demand. Lack of investment and support has created a revolving-door effect with fewer people wishing to take on these roles and more people choosing to leave them. Add to this the increased demands on the caring professions brought about by our ageing population and you can forgive the media for calling it a crisis.

At Leuchie we’re proud to have a nurse-led service, valuing our nurses’ professional expertise by giving them the autonomy to make all the decisions about guests’ care. We back this up with an ongoing development programme. Through our new partnership with Queen Margaret University we are working to help develop the nurses of the future.

Similarly we place our team of care assistants at the heart of everything we do. Ask any of our guests what makes their break at Leuchie special and they will almost certainly say it’s the staff who care for them. We were thrilled this week to learn that one of the team, Maureen, has been shortlisted for a Scottish Social Services Award for going above and beyond in her caring role.  A fantastic role model for our own staff and hopefully an inspiration for others.

As a society we need to properly recognise and value the vital role played by nursing and care staff, viewing these as careers to aspire to. As employers we need to nurture and invest in them.

By Mairi O'Keefe, Chief Executive, Leuchie House. Published in The East Lothian Courier, 27 April 2017.