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Health bosses in the Highlands warn of 'difficult decisions' over home care due to coronavirus outbreak

By Val Sweeney

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NHS Highland.
NHS Highland.

People receiving care at home may get fewer and shorter visits as difficult decisions are made due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, health bosses have warned.

NHS Highland's adult social care service, which supports about 6000 people in the community many of whom are among the most vulnerable regarding the virus, is bracing itself for "extraordinary demand".

The health authority warns delivery of care will need to stretch further to ensure available care packages are focused on those who need it most while at the same time there will be a strain on the workforce as has already been seen across the world.

In statement, the health authority said: "We are managing a period of unprecedented challenge across health and social care and with increasing levels of need and reduced availability of carers due to illness how we manage care at home is going to have to change.

"Care needs are likely going to increase amongst our population, not just for those who are in receipt of packages but for those who will become vulnerable as a result of Covid-19.

"Couple that with the likely scenario that carers are also going to become unwell, we are facing what will be an extraordinary demand on health and social care service provision and difficult decisions will have to be made.

"The care we have is going to have to stretch further to ensure that those who need it most get it.

"That may mean phased implementation of packages, less visits, shorter visits, minimal choice around visit timings and activities.

"It will also mean that our normal ability to accommodate peoples’ individual choices and aspirations are severely limited."

NHS Highland, which is working with Highland Council, the independent sector, voluntary sector and the third sector, says it also needs families to work with them around the issues.

"Whilst we are attempting to avoid disruption, it is to be expected that people may have to cope with less care to allow need to be met," the statement continued.

NHS Highland and its partners are working with the British Red Cross to support with the coordination of the large scale offers of volunteering and goodwill gestures to ensure it is managed properly and safely.

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