Urgent recruitment drive to plug Black Isle care at home gap as lifeline service comes under pressure
Easier access to your trusted, local news. Subscribe to a digital package and support local news publishing.
A HIGHLAND community is being rallied to help plug a looming care at home gap set to kick in just days before Christmas.
A recruitment drive for carers offering a lifeline service to people in their own homes is being backed by NHS Highland and local community leaders.
The Inverness Courier has learned first hand of the life-changing difference the care packages can have in helping vulnerable people who prefer to live independently in their own homes do so, ultimately easing 'bed-blocking' pressure on the overloaded NHS and the Highlands' already fragile care home system.
The impending contractually agreed withdrawal of care on the Black Isle by one existing operator announced back in September has brought the issue to a head as another well-respected operator seeks to recruit in a bid to plug the gap and tackle unmet demand.
Eilean Dubh Home Care, based in Culbokie, has a team of Black Islers already providing around 230 hours of care on the north side of the peninsula. Carers popping in up to four times a day help with a variety of needs from getting up, washed and fed in the morning to heating meals and inserting catheters. For some, it can be the only point of contact in the day, offering an "eyes and ears" early warning system over other health issues.
A spokeswoman for NHS Highland confirmed provider Top Care gave notice in September to terminate, in line with their contractual notice period of 13 weeks. She said: "We have been working closely with Eilean Dubh and the local community to explore creative ways in how we can help recruit to these important carer roles in our community.
"It is important that we can support people to be independent in their homes for as long as possible and support the local community to recruit and develop ‘home grown’ carers that create sustainable care capacity. It’s been a positive experience and our collective connections with the local community have helped as we have all done it together. There is still a need for more carers and we will continue to work with Eilean Dubh and progress this work together."
Asked about the potential of a care gap, she said: "The total care required in the Black Isle can change on a daily basis. Everyone who had care before will receive a service but there is still a need for those who did not previously have a service. We will continue to work with Eilean Dubh and progress this work together."
Black Isle councillor Lyndsey Johnston, who has a caring background, is supportive of the Eilean Dubh team’s efforts: “I think they are a fantastic operation. I realise there’s a worry for families, especially at this time of year. Carers don’t get the respect that they deserve and that is something I believe needs to change. They can be a lifeline.”