Health and social care in Falkirk show ‘green shoots’ of recovery after pandemic



Health and social care services in Falkirk could be starting to see some “green shoots” of recovery – although they remain on an emergency footing to face the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic.

A report to Falkirk Council’s Scrutiny committee on Thursday heard that the service continues to be under tremendous pressure, with soaring demand for services and large numbers of staff off sick or self-isolating.

This, along with a lack of people applying to work in social care, has led to huge waiting lists for people who need social care packages.

While the most urgent cases being prioritized, many people have been left without support.

Falkirk Health and Social Care Partnership head of integration, Gail Woodcock, told councilors that unmet demand continues to be really high – but, she added, they are starting to see progress.

She said: “We are starting to see green shoots in terms of our staffing levels being slightly better than they have been over the past few months and that will start to make an impact – but the level of unmet demand is still really significant.

“People are not applying to come into care at home at the moment – ​​we’re not seeing an increase in recruitment and that’s not just in the council but also with our partner providers.”

However, she added that the surge in other care providers handing back packages to the council had slowed down and that had not happened for the last few weeks.

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“We’re hopeful that those green shoots will continue but obviously it’s very difficult to tell what will happen in the future in relation to Covid and the challenges we’re facing.”

The meeting also heard that the relentless challenges have made it an incredibly difficult time for staff.

Chief finance officer Jillian Thomson told members that staff and carers “have been working above and beyond, facing unprecedented challenges, for a significantly extended period”.

That constant pressure had resulted in “staff and carer fatigue” which was reflected in more than usual being off sick long-term.

Despite the massive challenges, however, the report stated that core services had been maintained, including care at home, community care team, community nursing and mental health officers, care homes and MECS.

Councillor Lorna Binnie said: “I take my hat off to all the staff for their dedication, professionalism and compassion.”

But she asked how staff were being supported.

Cllr Binnie was told that managers are very keen that staff themselves should take the lead and get a say in what is needed.

Ms Thomson said: “Our staff have gone above and beyond – they continue to do all that they can to provide services and certainly their health and wellbeing is something we are looking at.

“We have been provided with additional funding from the Scottish Government for this and there are a range of actions we are taking at the moment.

“Some of that is very practical support, things like providing places where they can have a coffee and a proper break but it also includes a range of other tools and access to various online resources for mental health.

“We also are intending to issue that funding directly to teams and we’ve been asking the staff what would practically support them, so rather than us providing a range of things that won’t help us want to get their views.”




www.dailyrecord.co.uk

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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