A majority of care home workers are considering quitting the industry over pay fears caused by the cost-of-living crisis.
“Underpaid” staff said they are increasingly reliant on overdrafts and credit cards to get by as prices soar.
New findings by GMB union found 88 per cent of surveyed care home staff are now thinking about leaving to find other work.
Hundreds of care workers have told the body they feel undervalued, overworked, stressed and underpaid.
More than 70 per cent of 500 carers surveyed said their wages didn’t cover their monthly outgoings.
And a quarter of those surveyed admitted they had to borrow money to make ends meet.
Hundreds more said they regularly used their overdraft and credit cards every month for bills.
It comes after the Sunday Mail revealed last year how jobs in supermarkets were higher paid than jobs in care homes – leaving many considering a change of career.
In one example in Glasgow, the Barchester care home group had roles advertised at £9.50 an hour but a nearby Waitrose had store assistant jobs at £10.73 an hour.
The Scottish Government is planning to raise pay in the specialized sector to £10.50 an hour but industry chiefs, workers and unions have said it doesn’t go far enough.
Campaigns and protests have taken place for the minimum rate to be raised to £15 an hour.
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Gran-of-four Liz Martin, who has worked in residential homes in Ayrshire for 36 years, said: “The survey findings are staggering.
“The conditions in the job are the worst it’s been in my near four decades in it.
“Every day I hear from colleagues who are thinking about leaving the job or have already left.
“People can work in supermarkets and have less stress to deal with.
“Pre-pandemic there was already a problem with the industry but Covid and the cost-of-living increases have left us on our knees.
“Many are stressed and burned out. We need financial help and pay increases if, as a society, we want a working social care system. Otherwise it will grind to a halt.”
Another worker, speaking anonymously, admitted relying on handouts to get by.
The Fife-based 35-year-old mum said: “I moved to Scotland five years ago from overseas. I came to Scotland to make a better life for myself and my family but am now locked in a cycle of poverty.
“I am paid £10.52 per hour to work in a care home but it is not enough.
“We work anti-social hours sometimes and that involves having to pay a childminder at an increased rate.
“I can’t afford it any longer. If it wasn’t for my friend lending me money every month, I wouldn’t be able to get by.”
GMB Scotland organizer Kirsty Nimmo said: “The findings tell another sobering story of the cost-of-living crisis facing key workers.
“Pay must be the priority to ease the unsustainable pressures on our hard-pressed social care workforce and, for GMB, that means a £15-an-hour industry minimum. The uplift to £10.50 from April isn’t going to go far enough.”
The care industry agreed that pay – decided and funded by the Scottish Government – wasn’t enough.
Dr Donald Macaskill, of umbrella group Scottish Care, said: “We support a significant pay increase for care home staff.
“While frontline staff will see an increase in April, many more who work in supporting roles such as administrative or domestic jobs at homes will continue to be paid the minimum wage. That isn’t good enough.”
Minister for Social Care Kevin Stewart said: “We’ve recently made additional funding of up to £48million available so employers
can increase the hourly pay rates of adult social care staff.
“We’re determined to go further and fair work principles will be at the heart of the new National Care Service.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.