Carers urged to plan for lengthy Brexit disruption

‘Significant’ number of smaller social care providers have not had time or resources to prepare for “very real” threats from Brexit

Saturday 7th September 2019

Care providers are being urged to plan for at least two months of disruption as a result of Brexit.

New guidance issued by Scottish Care, which represents independent providers, says members should plan for a medium to worst-case scenarios in terms of disruption to their supply chains.

The advice states this would assume eight weeks of disruption, with a longer period of 12-18 weeks or possibly more if a no-deal Brexit does happen.

It warns a ‘significant’ number of smaller and medium-sized care providers have not had the capacity or resources to prepare for Brexit and sets out simple steps that can be taken ahead of October 31st.

Chief executive Dr Donald Macaskill says the guidance offers “practical assistance to ensure that providers can do all that can be reasonably expected of them to ensure that they have undertaken appropriate planning and to establish robust resilience to deal with all eventualities. This includes encouraging care staff to take part in the government’s Settled Status process.”

Scottish Care’s move come after a leading charity warned of “too many unanswered questions” about how leaving the EU will affect older people on a range of issues from healthcare to pensions.

Scottish Care says there is still ‘uncertainty and disagreement’ over what the consequences of Brexit may be.

But it says it wants to ensure members have initiated a “robust process of resilience and contingency planning” as far as practicably possible.

The briefing paper says there has been some degree of reassurance over the continuing supply of medicines. But it raises concerns over access to other medical supplies, ranging from materials such as gloves and continence products to cleaning materials and machine parts.

Providers are encouraged to take a number of steps including identifying weak points in supply chains and considering ‘lend and share’ arrangements with local health and care organisations.

The paper goes on to say medical and pharmaceutical advice should be taken when considering substituting medicines in the event of disruption – because some older people ‘may not be able to deal with such change as readily of those of younger years’.

Care providers are being advised to raise concerns with Scottish Care, which can pass them on to the relevant authorities.

Dr Macaskill says it is very difficult to know what is coming next:

“We are living in extremely unsettling times for the whole of Scotland but most especially for those who are working in and delivering critical life services to some of our most vulnerable citizens.

“We do not have a crystal ball to determine what the next few weeks and months will look like and so Scottish Care, as the representative body of independent sector care providers, has issued fresh guidance for our members on our leaving of the EU.

“It is fair to say that we believe that the care sector will be significantly and negatively impacted if we fall out of Europe through a no-deal situation. Our members deliver care to people who are increasingly worried and anxious and all I can do is to ensure people in care homes and in our communities that we will do everything we can possibly do to keep them healthy and safe.

“But I am not naïve, and sadly recognise that the very real threats to the supply chain, to the maintenance of medical supplies and consumables, to our ability to maintain food and other essential supplies, means that those who can least afford it will pay a high price.

“So whilst our politicians squabble and rhetoric seems to be replacing reason, it is the frontline care worker and nurse, the care home and home care organisations, that will end up picking up the pieces of this national harm.”