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Letters / Care sector crisis?

Your previous article on Shetland’s care service was timely. It’s complicated. Hence no snappy, sound- bitey response, not from from me anyway.

Care sector under ‘sustained pressure’ but no crisis

I’ll leave that to the ‘politicians’. I am left wondering though when ‘stretched to capacity’ and in a ‘perfect storm’ – Mr Chittick’s words – do not a crisis make?

Maybe it’s a high pressure storm, really, really windy, but the sun, it’s out – a whirlwind or hurricane perhaps? Still causes damage though.

When elderly Lerwick living relatives are sent to Brae, da Waastside or Levenwick or indeed outer Islands care home for weeks or months, if not years, at a time – one woman I know spent two years in Brae – that can feel like a crisis.

With dementia or Alzhiemer’s, if you don’t see a person regularly, the memory of them can very, very quickly go (granted, often much more upsetting for the relatives, than the sufferer).

Perhaps Mr Chittick should spend several weeks/months mid-winter going up the Da Kames and back every day, seven days a week and see how much of a crisis that feels like?

It took my personal illness (not caused by caring duties) to get emergency residential care for my Mum.

Respite, for her, or me, was said to be unavailable previously. Whilst certainly a trauma, if not crisis for  me re my health, respite was suddenly available – in a short-term crisis of care cover.

I think it was three/four weeks Mam was in a care home until a new care package could be arranged, all perfectly reasonable, whilst I was in recovery.

The issue was no respite care at all was said to available, but in a crisis, it was! Go figure!

Facilities aside, recruitment and retention of carers, two and a half years later from initial Covid quarantine, remains a very, very  serious issue.

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If the money can’t be upped (it should be substantively) perhaps other, additional creative incentives could be provided with the employment.

Westminster ‘austerity’ – poverty inducing monetarism – is the real funding problem – with low taxation giving poor public services.

The austerity purse strings are still  tightly drawn, some 12 years later from when the LibDems allowed Cameron, and their posh, rich boy henchman Clegg –  Alistair and Beatrice’s pal – to punish the poorest, the most vulnerable, the sick, the disabled.

A policy legacy to this day on which the Tories and now cost of living crisis feast, literally. Free leisure centre and Mareel use, a carer well-being package of the very many therapies and relaxation classes – yoga, massage, sound relaxation etc. – on offer to the local well-off and maybe even a couple of half-price ‘get-a-way in Shetland’ weekends per year (the latter  currently, and very generously, offered to unpaid home carers by some, a very few, local accommodation providers in their quieter off-peak periods).

I’m sure the reserve fund could stretch to a carers incentive – a rent/council tax ‘ holiday’  deal. Yes, there is the matter of housing, but perhaps a deal with the burgeoning, buoyant AirBnB sector and its neighbour,  the ‘AirBnB on the QT ‘sector’, could be incentivised to provide ‘Homes for Local Heroes’, rather than stand empty for a third, if not half, the year.

A local hike of council tax, say trebling it, for say third or more home ownership in the toon might iron out, temporarily, some of the home issues in da toon, until more houses are built outside the Lerwick/Sandwick/ Scalloway/Weisdale bubble. Just thinking out loud.

Yours sincerely,

James J Paton

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