David Harrison, MD of Helping Hands, Hexham
David Harrison, MD of Helping Hands
Helping Hands Community Care

Member Article

Funding for homecare services for old people at a 'tipping point'

A leading North East homecare organisation has called for the Government to stop dithering over social care and to accelerate plans to introduce a properly funded mechanism for the embattled sector.

David Harrison, MD of Helping Hands Community Care, which operates primarily across Northumberland and parts of Tyneside, has echoed the views of England’s social care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC), which earlier this year stated the social care sector (including homecare services) had reached a ‘tipping point’.

A point where deterioration in quality will outpace improvement and there could be a substantial increase in vulnerable people whose needs are not being met.

Mr Harrison added: “Good quality, reliable home care for the elderly and vulnerable should not be a privilege. It should be a basic requirement in a wealthy, modern society.

“Our local councils face ridiculous demands form central government to cut public services. As a result, budgets for social care provision are under unrealistic pressure.

“The investment local authorities are able to make does not reflect the true cost of delivering the necessary care. Shrinking net budgets mean fewer people are able to access homecare at a time the population is ageing and demand is increasing.

“The current system is not sustainable. Helping Hands is in a stronger position than most but the rates of pay the sector can offer is depressed and means there is a constant 25pc – 30pc turnover in staff.

“Homecare and the whole social care sector is under threat from chronic under-funding. National politicians have known this for years. A Green Paper promising a new funding system continues to be delayed but it’s now time for the government to stop dithering and take urgent action.”

His comments come following the publication this week of a report by the UK Homecare Association (UKHCA) claiming that councils are buying vital homecare services for the elderly on the cheap from private providers across the UK.

More than 4.1m hours of state-funded homecare are bought each week in the UK which enables more than 850,000 people to be supported in the home and to live independently within their local community.

Research by UKHCA found that only one in seven councils was paying a fair price for care. Hard pressed councils acknowledge the problem but say they have insufficient money to pay more. The weighted average price paid for older people’s homecare by the 12 local authorities which buy homecare in the North East during the sample week was £14.15 per hour. This was the lowest weighted average in England’s nine government regions, and second-lowest in the twelve regions of the United Kingdom, when Northern Ireland’s exceptionally low rates are considered.

The report – entitled The Homecare Deficit 2018 – highlights that homecare services make a major contribution to the wellbeing and safety of older and disabled people

Around the country, there is evidence of homecare providers ceasing trading and handing back homecare contracts to their statutory sector purchasers because of inadequate fee levels.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Helping Hands Community Care .

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