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Unsung heroes – home carers deliver Christmas care and cheer

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As many people start to wind down for the festive period, hundreds of home carers across Glasgow are gearing up to carry out thousands of visits to some of our most vulnerable citizens on Christmas Day and over the festive period.

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On Christmas Day last year, more than 13,500 visits were carried out by Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) home care staff – carrying out their normal daily duties whilst the rest of the city tuck into their turkey dinners.

To many of our service users the visits on Christmas Day will be a lifeline. This includes more than 12 service users who are all over 100 years young – the oldest 104!

As Frances McMeeking, Assistant Chief Officer, Operational Care Services for Glasgow City HSCP explains: “Instead of winding down at this time of year our staff are very much the opposite – making sure that all our service users have their visits scheduled for over the holidays – but also trying to juggle staff holidays.

“Home carers have families too and we want to make it possible for as many of them to have time off with their loved ones at Christmas and New Year.

“We have sent out letters to all our service users across the city asking them to confirm that they still require the same level of service – as we know that extended family have more time to spend with their mums, dads, aunts and uncles which results in our staff not being vital for a home visit for example.

“However, this does not mean a reduced service – far from it.

“In the lead up to Christmas we can see a 21% increase in referrals as hospitals try to ensure that patients can be home safe for the holidays.

“To this end we want to urge families to let us know as soon as possible if their family member receiving a care package is not going to require a scheduled visit – if we don’t know and then our home carer arrives to a locked door we have to follow protocol and try and find out if the service user is safe.

“This could involve requesting the emergency services to attend and wasting valuable resources that could be directed elsewhere.

“By letting the team know in advance can prevent any mix ups and letters have been delivered to every one of our 5500 service users explain the process.

“It’s a constant changing landscape but if we have as much information in advance it will allow us to manage staff efficiently and also allow as many of our staff time off with their families.”