Home care providers have warned that councils’ increasing use of electronic monitoring systems to commission services from the independent sector is hampering care quality.
The UK Home Care Association raised the concerns on BBC Radio 4’s You and Yours last week, in a programme examining the use of monitoring systems, under which care workers register their arrival at and departure from users’ homes, generating electronic timesheets.
Harrow Council head of adult services Mark Gillett told the programme it had enabled the council to commission slots by the minute, rather than in ten-minute blocks as before, ensuring the council paid only for the amount of care delivered.
Resources spent efficiently
Sarah Pickup (pictured) of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services said 35 councils in England will have brought in electronic monitoring by March. She added that such systems were about making sure resources were spent efficiently.
The systems are being promoted by the Department of Health’s care services efficiency delivery (CSED) team, whose role is to help councils generate efficiencies in adult care.
However, UKHCA chair Mike Padgham told Community Care that, although it was not against monitoring systems in principle, they were being used by councils to commission reduced slots of time and resulted in both users and staff watching the clock.
Improved care planning
Padgham also said that carers could only register the start of a care session once they had entered the user’s home, yet in some cases, for instance with people who had dementia, they had to spend 15 minutes negotiating entry.
However, CSED consultant Calum Macdonald said as far as he knew councils were not using monitoring systems to commission reduced care slots, and claimed they had several advantages. These included improving care planning, cutting bureaucracy through electronic timesheets and payroll systems, and improving safety for the user and the care worker, by allowing councils and providers to monitor missed appointments.