A CARE at home provider which offers services throughout North Ayrshire is to leave the area in April with more than 90 local jobs affected.

Carewatch, part of the CSN Care Group, will cease to provide support in the region from Wednesday, April 5 with around 160 residents currently on its books.

North Ayrshire Council has announced that services will be transferred to its in-house health and social care partnership (HSCP) team and offers of employment will be made to approximately 91 care staff.

Employees of the firm, which has head offices in Milton Keynes and Edinburgh and a branch office at Elliot House in Irvine, were informed on January 10 that Carewatch would no longer be delivering care services in North Ayrshire.

A spokesperson for the HSCP said they are working closely with Carewatch to support employees affected by the provider’s decision and to secure their employment and retain their skills and experience moving forward.

The partnership has contacted individual service users who will be affected by this change to offer reassurance that all care at home supports currently provided by Carewatch will transfer on a phased basis to the HSCP's in-house care at home service by April 5.

Councillor Margaret Johnson, cabinet member for health and social care at North Ayrshire Council, said: “This will be a distressing time for service users and staff of Carewatch, and we would like to provide reassurance that our immediate priority is ensuring continuity of care for service users and for all to receive high quality care and support services after Carewatch’s withdrawal from the area.

“We are delighted that there will be a positive outcome to this situation in being able to offer employment to all of Carewatch’s care staff, who will now have the opportunity to continue to provide support to North Ayrshire residents via our in-house care at home team."

The decision comes just weeks after the service was given 'weak' ratings by the Care Inspectorate for the quality of support for people's wellbeing and the quality of leadership.

A report by regulators noted that recruitment and retention of staff has been "challenging" for the service and "impacted on consistency of support for people".

A spokesperson for CSN Care Group said: "Carewatch [Ayrshire] can confirm that after delivering services as per the initial framework agreement, and for the subsequent permitted extension period, we have made the decision not to further extend our contract to provide care at home services in the North Ayrshire area.

"We have been working in collaboration with the HSCP to ensure there is a smooth, timely and risk-reduced transition of the service by the mutually agreed transfer date of April 5.

"The safe care of service users and colleagues remains our number one priority and we will always keep that at the centre of any decisions we make.

"This may be a distressing time for some, however, we would like to thank the North Ayrshire health and social care partnership for their offers of employment to our existing care staff, which ensures a positive outcome and continuation of service for both colleagues and service users.”