Proposals to deregulate home care agencies that supply care workers to service users could leave vulnerable people at risk and reduce service quality, according to a sector leader.
Existing regulations stipulate that agencies that supply staff to be employed by a service user – typically a direct payment recipient or self-funder – must carry out a Criminal Records Bureau check and provide references.
But draft regulations from the Department of Health would remove these agencies from regulation from 2010 because they do not directly employ care staff and on the basis that personal assistants directly employed by users should be unregulated, in line with personalisation.
Bill McClimont, who is vice-chair of the United Kingdom Homecare Association but was speaking in a personal capacity, said thousands of users relied on these agencies, whose temporary and permanent staff include live-in carers, and who charge a management fee.
Users will not benefit
Such users would not benefit from deregulation, he said, warning: “It reduces the protection and the standards that the service user will enjoy.”
McClimont, who works for an agency that employs staff to work under the direction of service users, said there could be about 100 agencies that purely supplied staff to service users.
Agencies could switch to deregulated sector
But he warned: “I anticipate there will be quite a number of providers which currently employ their staff will look carefully at their business model to see whether they should shift to the less regulated alternative.”
This would be “an extremely negative move”, he said.
GSCC registration for PAs
McClimont added that, to improve safeguards for service users and staff training, personal assistants who were not relatives or friends of the service user should be registered with the General Social Care Council.
The GSCC pledged to consult on this last July but this week said it was still in talks with the DH over the process.
McClimont, who is a member of the GSCC, stressed he was again speaking in a personal capacity.