The quality of home care in Telford & Wrekin is being comprised with the introduction of a new council framework, providers have claimed.
Eighty one per cent (81%) of firms that responded to a survey said the new Telford & Wrekin Council Preferred Provider Framework for Domiciliary Care, which chooses providers to give social care to people in their own homes, is putting people at risk.
The survey also revealed that nearly 85 per cent of organisations had to reduce their costs to meet the council’s hourly rate of £14 – which is nearly £2 below the recommended UK rate* for quality home care.
The review by Shropshire Partners in Care, a not-for-profit organisation that represents independent nursing, residential and domiciliary care providers, also highlighted concerns that people are being left with little or no choice in which organisation provides their home care.
SPIC Chief Officer Debbie Price said: “The results of the survey among care providers in Telford & Wrekin was of concern.
“SPIC and the vast majority of care providers questioned (81%) have serious concerns about the quality of care that can be provided within the demands of the framework.
“This framework has been put in place for one reason – to provide the lowest cost care possible, which is very likely to be at the expense of quality of care.
“It is difficult to provide meaningful care visits in 15 minute time slots, which is what is often expected under the current system. This means that care providers who are desperate to provide the best possible service just don’t have the time to look after the genuine needs of often vulnerable people.”
The framework’s hourly rate of £14 also threatens the ability of home care providers to build a skilled workforce, which in turn reduces the quality of care on offer, said Debbie.
“Businesses cannot employ, train and continue to build the skills of staff on a shoestring budget. They have told us it is not safe to deliver care at less than £14 per hour, when the recommended minimum is £15.74.
“Staff need support and training to ensure they can give good care and companies have to provide administrative support to ensure they are meeting their legal requirements.
“We want Telford & Wrekin Council to understand the real cost of safe care, potentially introducing a lower rate of banding and revisit rates for social care.”
Care provider case study
Brenda Riley, who runs LetterShanner care providers in Telford, said she decided not to apply to join the council framework because she disagreed with the way it operates.
“You cannot provide care with dignity and respect to people in 15 minutes. Telford & Wrekin Council has reduced social care to a bidding war with the cheapest quote winning.
“Quality doesn’t even come into to which is why I refused to enter LetterShanner into the framework.”
Mrs Riley attended several consultation events run by the council when it was preparing to create the framework. She said she was disappointed with the eventual outcome and took the decision not to join up.
“It appears the council just want to get away with paying rock bottom prices for care at the expense of people’s welfare. I am not prepared for my business to support that.”
Care provider comments from the SPIC survey:
“Surely the council should be promoting choice and not just shoving people down the one size fits all, poor quality care route”
“Concerned about the quality of care that can be delivered in short time scales, cannot be sustainable long term”
“The framework is not at all client focused and the vulnerable people requiring any kind of support are not at the centre of what is potentially a very difficult time for them, they are forced into using providers that give the best quote not the provider that will offer them the best service”
“As a quality care provider we will not take part in a ‘race to the bottom’ to reduce the council’s costs. It is not safe to deliver care at less than £14 per hour”