More than half of care homes for adults and older people plus care at home services have vacancies, a new report indicates.
The joint report 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”.
The statistics are based on the returns from 89% of all around 8,000 social care services across Scotland in 2017, excluding childminders, which employed an estimated 179,1501 staff.
A total of 38% of social care services reported vacancies, up two percentage points on 2016.
Those with vacancies significantly higher than this average included care at home services (62%), care homes for older people (59%), housing support services (59%) and care homes for adults (53%).
Care homes for children also came in above average at 45% and one of the only services with vacancies below average was children’s daycare at 23%.
Around a fifth (20%) of social care services reported having nursing vacancies, down a percentage point on 2016 and unchanged from 2015.
An estimated 6,700 nurses were working in registered care services as of December 31 2007 and those areas with a higher than average proportion of nursing vacancies included care homes for older people at 46% of services.
More than two-fifths of all services with vacancies reported having problems filling them as of December 31 2017.
Those particularly struggling included care at home services care at home services (63%), care homes for older people (59%), housing support services (55%) and care homes for adults (50%).
Too few applicants with experience was the top reason for problems recruiting at 58%, followed by too few applicants in general at 57% and a lack of applicants with necessary qualifications at 50%.
At December 31 2017, the rate of whole-time equivalent vacancies social care services across Scotland was 5.9%, up from 5.5% in 2016.
Gordon Weir, Care Inspectorate interim chief executive, said: “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.”
He added: “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.”
Lorraine Gray, SSSC chief executive, said: “The data will be used to inform improvement and redesign of services in the sector to address the vacancy issues highlighted in the report.”
She said this included nurses working in care homes and a review of child and adolescent mental health services.
Ms Gray stressed the council’s work to promote careers and professional development is key, adding: “It is vital that social care continues to attract staff with the right values, skills and experience, as well as filling vacancies.”