Young people are being targeted by NHS Highland to plug the shortage of home carers amid mounting concerns people are not getting the help they need.
NHS Highland are hoping school-leavers will be attracted by the new recruitment drive that seeks people without experience for the industry.
Jean Pierre Sieczkarek, manager of the health board’s care at home service in South and Mid Highland, said the situation could not go on.
Mr Sieczkarek said around 40 people, mainly pensioners, are stuck in hospital right now because there are no vacancies at care homes or no carers available to treat them in their own homes.
Speaking to the Ross-shire Journal, he said: “Approximately 50 people per month are referred to us for home care, and at the same time approximately 20 people come off our books every month for various reasons, they go into a care home, some pass away. That’s 360 people per year who are added to our books and we are constantly trying to find additional resources.”
And with too few carers, he said, recruitment drives in the past have done little more than shuffle the bank of workers around.
He said: “NHS Highland employs seven private care companies in the Inner Moray Firth Area. All we end up doing is stealing from each other. All we do is we move our workforce around, it’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul. So to that end targeting young people and working more closely with schools absolutely has to be our focus.”
Part of the “long-term plan” will see carers going into school to talk-up the industry. “We could also set up apprenticeships,” said Mr Sieczkarek.
“It would almost be like providing a foundation course. They can start off in care and move on to social work or nursing. They can get their SVQ Level 4 and they would have a really good CV. We could give them references. What we’re going to try to do is sell it as a career.”