Council targets sick leave to cut deficit

Cardiff social services are looking to tackle the high levels of residential care staff absence in an effort to reduce a projected overspend in adults’ services.

 Social services director Neelam Bhardwaja (pictured) said the council, which anticipates a £7m deficit in adult services by the end of March, spent £1.8m in 2005-6 in agency fees to cover staff sickness in residential care services.

Cardiff is among the two-thirds of Welsh councils projecting a funding deficit in adults’ services.

In an interview with Community Care, Bhardwaja said agency costs and the need to deliver increasingly complex care packages were the main factors for the overspend. She added that the council was reviewing its sickness policies.

“We need to be looking at the causes of sickness: is it workload management, someone’s home environment or if not, do we need to be referring people to occupational health much earlier? Or is the job not suitable because it is going to exacerbate the condition?”

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