Care at home – only if you are well-off and pay directly

An admission that “care in the community” is failing miserably – at a time when care in community hospitals is being slashed beyond the bone.

Nine out of 10 councils in the UK are failing to pay realistic prices to support older and disabled people in their own homes, the industry says.

The UK Home Care Association calculated the minimum price councils should be paying was £16.70 per hour, but the average was over £2 less.

Councils said they had been left with little choice given the squeeze on their finances by the government.
But the UKHCA said the situation was threatening the future of the market.

It warned agencies were struggling to recruit staff and maintain quality, noting growing numbers of organisations were handing back contracts to councils.

It comes after the Care Quality Commission said earlier in the month the sector was at “tipping point” with cuts leading to more pressure on hospitals and deteriorating performance.

Kimberley Hassall works for Somerset Care, a social enterprise which provides home care for councils across the south of England.

She says because of the pressures in the system, there is simply not enough time to do everything she wants to do, and so she has to prioritise things like medication.

“I do feel with some people you would want an extra half an hour just so you can put the washing on, change the bed or change their clothes.”

She says there is constant “juggling” to make sure she can see all her clients. “You have to be clock-watching,” she added.

Her bosses agree. Currently 80% of the work Somerset Care does is council-funded, but it is looking to shift the balance much more towards private clients in the future as the agency feels it cannot maintain the quality of care with the fees being offered. …”