Figures released by Scottish Care, the body that represents private and voluntary providers of social care in Scotland, suggest that 77% of homes have vacancies, warning that the lack of people working in the sector is crippling care provision across the country.
Care representatives have said the growing shortages of care staff in care home, care at home and housing support services for older people need to be treated as a political priority.
The Scottish government said it was committed to raising the status of carers and developing new models of care provision.
Data released by Scottish Care shows that more than three quarters of care home services (77%) have current staff vacancies, while 25% of services have found it more difficult to recruit care staff this year, and a further 64% found recruitment to be as difficult as the previous year.
44% of care home services rely on the EU as a recruitment pool for support workers, while the average rate of staff turnover is 22%.
The data also revealed that 89% of care home and housing support services have staff vacancies at present. 90% of organisations have difficulty filling support worker vacancies, and over half (58%) said that recruitment is harder this year than last, with only 3% stating it was less difficult.
Nearly 10% of care home staff are from the European Union. One third of total staff in care home and housing support services leave every year.
The data was based on a survey led by Scottish Care and collected from nearly 250 care services, employing over 10,000 people and caring for over 25,000 people across Scotland.
Speaking about the survey results, Scottish Care CEO Dr Donald Macaskill said: “These are very worrying statistics, particularly given that they represent a trend of increased difficulty for care providers in recruiting and retaining staff. These figures have been worse year on year from 2015.”
Health Secretary Shona Robison said: “Raising the status of social care as a profession, and attracting and retaining the right people, is key to delivering quality care.
“That is why we have taken action to protect care services, including paying the Living Wage to adult care workers, boosting the income of up to 40,000 people.
“In the coming year there will be almost half a billion pounds of NHS investment in social care and integration, underlining that we are treating this as a key priority.
“We are also working with Cosla [local government organisation] and care providers to deliver major reforms to adult social care, which will consider workforce issues and new models of care and support.”