HOME care services for some of Glasgow's most vulnerable have been slashed by 60% as the city faces a crisis as a result of staff absence in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership which covers the city is moving to Priority 1 cover for all areas - which will hit older people requiring personal care.

More than 5,500 elderly or disabled people in Glasgow receive a home care service.

It is believed that Priority 1 covers those at the highest risk and would include those with the most essential palliative care needs.

Gordon Bryan, head of care services at Glasgow City Health and Social Care Partnership, in a circular has said that the new action plan needs to be implemented with "immediate effect" as home care had experienced "unprecedented increases in staff absence against only a minimal reduction in service demand".

The council said it had moved to implement a “critical care” service all over the city while resources are prioritised to cope with the coronavirus crisis.

It means certain categories of care will still be delivered while others will not receive the same service as before. The council said families have been contacted to inform them of the changes to ensure people are still supported through the critical care period.

Those who the council say will still receive the same level of care include those on managed medication, stoma care, complex mobility issue, advanced dementia, peg feeding, no family support or carer support, receiving bed care, all service users in receipt of overnight home care.

It is always based on assessed care needs, the local authority has said.

The Herald:

The circular said that with the agreement of the Care Inspectorate it would mean the stopping of all non-essential work including, screening meetings, work place observations, service and annual reviews, PSP [Progressive supranuclear palsy] updates, and HR investigations.

Mr Bryan said in the circular:"As you are all aware that the situation with Covid-19 is fast moving and changes daily.

"Following our business continuity meeting, the HSCP [Health and Social Care Partnerships] Resilience Team and our home care senior management team has taken the decision to move to Priority 1 cover for all areas of the city.

"Home Care has experienced unprecedented increases in staff absence against only a minimal reduction in service demand.

He said the action plan that needed to be implemented involved a "reduction across all areas to only provided a service to Priority 1 service users. This shall equate to approximately a 60% reduction in service provision."

There would be a daily review of staffing "against this new norm" to identify areas where services are still unable to be provided.

The document went on: "Support, this will change and be challenging because this is a changing picture."

There was to be a review of the available staffing including those who are required to isolate to "ensure we are utilising all capacity across the city as effectively as possible".

It went on: "We shall continue to review all tasks and duties for all staff groups and prioritising against critical need and service demands."

Social care workers were to begin working their way through a list of service users who are not Priority 1, to notify them of "this reduction/suspension in service".

Occupational therapists were to review all new hospital discharges to apply the "Priority 1 principle" and follow up with home visits to complete risk assessments and develop personal care support plan.

"The current business continuity plan for the wider HSCP and acute services requires that we continue to operate the hospital discharge pathway - therefore I would request the reduction in current service users also allows our First Response Teams to be prioritised and for this to be maintained," he said. "We shall be implementing the same prioritisation for all new referrals and amendments to plan.

"We shall also implement an ongoing review and a meeting schedule shall follow.

"Can I also say I appreciate this is very challenging and we are in unchartered waters so can I thank you for your efforts and commitment to protect our most vulnerable citizens."

Glasgow City Council and the Health and Social Care Partnership is coming under staffing pressure across services to cope with people off work, self-isolating or who are in vulnerable groups who need to reduce contact with others.

The council said it was taking all necessary steps to ensure the most vulnerable in the city continue to receive the support they need.

A spokeswoman for Glasgow HSCP said: “We have taken the difficult decision to move to critical care cover in Homecare for all areas of the city. This means we have to concentrate resources on priority services and caring for our most vulnerable service users. We are also focusing on supporting patients being discharged from hospital. Families and carers are being contacted directly to ensure services users are supported.”