Families with a loved one in hospital are being asked to support a quick return home due to the extreme pressures faced by health and social care services in East Ayrshire.

A build-up of demand for services and delays in treatment from other parts of the health system due to the pandemic has resulted in an overwhelming demand for services – most notably in terms of care packages for those who are medically fit to be discharged from hospital, but who need some extra support in place in order for them to safely return to their own homes.

East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership says its priority now is ensuring that they can support as many individuals living in East Ayrshire to return home from hospital as quickly as they are well enough to.

However limited staffing resources and rapidly increasing demand means that this is not always possible.

As a result, families with a loved one waiting to be discharged from hospital are being asked to consider whether there is anything they could do to support them to return home more quickly, and avoid them having to remain in hospital unnecessarily over the festive period until a care package can be put in place.

This could include providing meals, assisting with medication or helping with personal care, either in their own home or at the home of their family member.

Some families may also have been offered alternative options for their relative such as a temporary stay in a residential care home. Families are being urged to carefully consider these options, as the Partnership currently cannot currently guarantee when a home care package will be put in place.

Craig McArthur, Director of East Ayrshire HSCP, said: “We understand how difficult it can be to have a loved one in hospital, particularly over the festive period when families often wish to spend time together.

“We are appealing to families to consider whether they could help to support a loved one to return home, which in turn would free up space within our hospitals for those who urgently need medical treatment.

"This would also allow care staff to focus on those with the greatest need and who may not have the same support network around them.

“We also appreciate that this can be a big commitment for families. Caring for someone can be challenging, especially at this busy time of year, and families would need to carefully think about how long they could potentially provide this level of support for.

“Recruitment is ongoing to bring in additional staff to support the increase in demand and cover absences this winter, however the recent increase in Covid-19 cases - along with uncertainty surrounding the potential impact of the new Omicron variant - means this situation is unlikely to improve in the near future.

“Please be reassured that East Ayrshire Health and Social Care Partnership is absolutely focused on keeping our services and communities safe at this time, and we will continue to ensure we can maintain delivery of our essential crucial frontline services.”