Changing client needs prompt call for shake-up in home care services

Home care services need radical change to meet the demands of an ageing population, government policy on older people and service users’ expectations, a sector overview has found.

The Commission for Social Care Inspection report, published yesterday (Wednesday), revealed significant unmet need, as councils tightened eligibility criteria, contrary to the government’s aim to increase early intervention.

It identified a growing gap between provision and users’ wants and needs, including inflexible services based on rushed, short visits, chronic recruitment and retention problems and significant training gaps.

But although many of the report’s messages – notably on low pay and eligibility criteria – implied funding gaps, it did not specifically call for more government investment.

Instead, the CSCI turned its fire on council commissioners, citing major variation between areas in numbers supported and the quality of services, and contract  specifications which cut short the time care workers spent with clients.

It said relations between councils and providers were “dominated by discussions about fees and/or characterised by a mutual lack of trust”.

Colin Angel, head of policy and communication at the UK Home Care Association, said councils’ concerns dominated meetings because they had major purchasing
power in the market and many home care agencies were small.

The report, based on evidence collected by CSCI over the past two years, called for councils to involve older people in commissioning, base care plans on outcomes rather than inputs and specify workforce conditions, including wages.

It also called on providers to improve their recruitment practices to show compliance with checks. Forty per cent failed the national minimum standard in this area.

Key messages
● Home care focused on fewer and fewer people.
● Serious recruitment and retention problems due to poor pay and conditions.
● Care plans based on inputs not outcomes.
● Many visits 30 minutes or less.

Further information
Time to Care?

Contact the author



More from Community Care

Comments are closed.