More than 100 students and retired care workers have pledged to do their bit to ease the pressure on the city’s social care services following an appeal from Glasgow City Council and the city’s Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP).

To date 97 students, currently completing their four-year Social Work degree or postgraduate degree at university, have expressed an interest in assisting delivering homecare services and working in one of five elderly residential homes around the city.

The response comes after staffing levels in both service areas have been depleted due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, with staff members off ill, self-isolating and having their own, family care duties.

This ongoing situation has put an extraordinary strain on the ability of the service to continue to deliver essential frontline homecare visits to some of our city’s most vulnerable residents and appropriately staff residential homes.

Following an intensive three day induction, the students will join a register of staff that can be used to supplement existing resources providing critical care to a limited number of service users.

The induction includes training on delivering personal care for a service user, moving and handling, undertaking risk assessments, adult support and protection, awareness of specialist requirements such as diet and fire awareness.

To comply with government guidelines on essential working and social distancing, the training is being undertaken in small groups of 12. It is anticipated that 24 students will have gone through induction this week and the rest over the next four weeks.

Due to their social work degree course, the students are already registered with the Scottish Social Care Council, the regulator for social service workforce in Scotland, and the council checks that they have a Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) disclosure record to allow working with vulnerable people.

As well as the obvious assistance to the service and paid employment, students will benefit from getting a broader understanding of the range of service users’ needs in social care and gaining first-hand practical experience normally only completed as part of a short-term placement.

In addition 13 recently retired homecarers and five residential care home staff have also re-joined the service and are being offered refresher training.

Frances McMeeking, Assistant Chief Officer for Operational Care Services, Glasgow City HSCP, said: “Unfortunately, in these most challenging and exceptional circumstances, we are being forced to make some very difficult decisions prioritising limited resources with those most in need.

“Our remarkable staff, both on the frontline and supporting in our operations centre, are under immense pressure to continue to deliver care services to some of the most vulnerable citizens. These students and retired staff members, although not solving the growing problem, will provide some support in the short-term.”

Connor Mullen, studying for his Master’s degree in Social Work at Glasgow Caledonian University, said; “When I received a request from the HSCP to help social care services, I put home support as my first choice as it was needed most.

“Also a big factor in my decision was my wee gran, who is entirely dependent on the support she receives at home, so I know how important it is.

“The training I’ve received over the past three days has taught me so much. Every member of the training staff were professional and supportive in challenging circumstances.

“I have a newfound respect for the homecare staff – the frontline workers, caring for the vulnerable in our communities and I feel privileged as a social work student to be given this opportunity to help.”

Faye Fowler also studying for a Master’s degree in Social Work, at University of Strathclyde, echoed this sentiment, she said: “Being a Homecarer is a very practical and hands on role assisting people in their own homes and sometimes with personal care tasks that need understanding and sensitivity.

“The trainers were brilliant in adapting the training course material to manage the social distancing guidance and were also creative in making sure that all the content like practical demonstrations were covered.

“We were also talked through the different physical ailments that service users may have and how to adapt your approach to take account of this, as well as for service users living with various stages of Dementia or Alzheimer’s and how you can help them feel as comfortable as possible.

“This has made me feel more confident about what I’m about to start.”