THOUSANDS of elderly and disabled people could be left without essential support when homecare workers receive equal pay settlement cheques, says a new report.

Home care workers in the city are set to be major beneficiaries as Glasgow City Council plans to pay out £500 million to women affected by historic discriminatory pay policies.

But as many as 1,000 workers are predicted to take the opportunity to take early retirement or quit their jobs when they get their settlements, putting a question mark over the viability of the service.

Age Scotland described the estimates as “severely worrying”.

The warnings come in a report by the city’s Chief Social Work Officer Susanne Miller, to be presented to the Glasgow Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) on Wednesday next week.

She says that more than three quarters of all home care workers are due a settlement as part of equal pay negotiations designed to rectify historic unfairnesses which undervalued work done by women.

A significant proportion are thought likely to hand in their notice as a result, and the council fears eight out of 10 of those on managerial grades could take this option.

“It is anticipated that betwee 18-40 per cent of our home care staff may choose to leave. Furthermore it is predicted that 50-80 per cent of staff in supervisory roles who are key to the day to day planning of work, assessment and supervision of front line staff may choose to leave,” Ms Millar says in a briefing to HSCP members.

An additional problem is anticipated if such a loss of staff increases pressure on those who remain. Change and uncertainty could lead to more people taking sick leave, Ms Millar’s report says.

This would leave care services in the city liable to lose 38-40 per cent of its capacity, she adds, and unable to meet the needs of those currently receiving home care.

“Within the community, our home care services could not sustain the service to our 5,500 service users with this loss of capacity,” Ms Millar warns.

Home care is largely provided to elderly or disabled residents of the city, who may need help with getting up and dressed, or preparing meals or help with taking medicine or reminders to take it.

The service – previously provided by arms length company Cordia, but now brought back in house and rebadged as Home Care Services – is also crucial to the city’s efforts to meet targets on ‘bed blocking’.

Glasgow has one of the best records in the country for avoiding delayed discharges from hospital, but managing those coming home from 121 acute wards across the city means dealing with an average of 40 referrals per day.

Ms Millar says the potential crisis can be avoided if action is taken and says £30,000 has been set aside for a major recruitment campaign to find up to 400 new care workers.

But they will also need to be vetted for work with vulnerable people and trained to meet standards set by the Scottish Social Services Council. Next week’s HSCP meeting will be asked to back the recruitment campaign.

Brian Sloan, Chief Executive of Age Scotland, said it was essential action was taken quickly: “If these stark predictions of a staff mass-exodus come to light then there are severely worrying consequences for the older people who rely on their care,” he said.

“There are over 1000 frail older people, many living with dementia, who will be affected by this, and the service supports 40 people each day to be discharged from hospital. Without this home care these people will no doubt be stuck in hospital for far longer than they need to be which will have a negative impact on their recovery, significantly increase delayed discharge numbers and cost the NHS an eye-watering amount of money to do so.”

For many older people, particularly those living alone, home care support is critical to helping them live independently, he said.

“The Health and Social Care Partnership has got to be ready for this and start the process of urgent recruitment of trained staff.”

A spokesman for the HSCP said: “We are currently planning for a potential loss of staff and the resultant impact this will have on services.

“A team is looking at how we can mitigate this reduction in capacity and adapt the way in which we deliver services. The precise effect on the service is unclear at this stage but it is clearly prudent to prepare for what may lie ahead.”