A 92-year-old dementia patient had to wait four months to be discharged from hospital after her home care package was cancelled during her week-long stay.
Esme Hanson was admitted to Morriston Hospital in Swansea with an infection in May.
Despite being deemed fit for discharge within a week, she had to wait until September before she could leave.
Her existing package had been cancelled during her week-long stay and the council struggled to find a replacement amid a social care staffing crisis.
Her son Andrew said that during this time her mental health had deteriorated and that the family felt “lucky” to finally get her home.
“If you’ve got somebody over 70 that needs care, you don’t know when they’re going to come out of hospital,” he added.
Council ‘sorry’ for delay
A spokesman for Swansea Council said they were extremely sorry for the delay and that every effort was made to find a package of care with a provider during the “unprecedented” times of the coronavirus pandemic.
“Demand for services has increased, workforce capacity has reduced and high levels of community transmission continue to affect staff availability,” they said.
The Welsh Government admitted the situation was “fragile” and it had committed £48 million of extra funding to ease the social care crisis in Wales.
It was only after the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales intervened, and advised the family to organise their own care, as well as asking the council to fund it, that care arrangements for Mrs Hanson were put in place, and that she was discharged.
Mrs Hanson’s son Andrew told BBC Wales that his mother now received “wonderful” care at home three times a day.
‘A downward spiral’ of staffing shortages
However, figures from the Welsh Government show that Mrs Hanson’s experience is not unique. Last month, there were more than 1,000 patients in Welsh hospitals unable to return home due to a lack of social care.
Keri Llewellyn, the director of home care company All Care, said “a downward spiral” of staffing shortages meant companies were handing back care packages to councils.
Ms Llewellyn said that care staff were exhausted from working through the pandemic, while low wages made recruitment and staff retention difficult.
Care Forum Wales has warned the care sector is facing its biggest staffing crisis “in living memory”.