Speaking at the annual conference of the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), the body’s chairman Mike Padgham warned that the Government’s autumn spending review would be ‘make or break time’ for many providing homecare.
“Thousands of people are going without the care they need in their own home – breaking the promises not just of this government, but of successive governments, of every political colour,” he told delegates gathering at the Kia Oval.
His words came as Age UK revealed figures that showed that a million people aged over 65 with a care need were not getting the help they needed.
“In 1989 they released a film called Back to the Future 2, in which the main characters went forward to 21st October 2015,” Mr Padgham added.
“I wonder, if they had included social care in the film, what sort of future would they have predicted? A utopian vision of older people cared for properly by a society that treated them with the respect and dignity they deserved?
“Or frail, vulnerable adults denied the knock on the door they look forward to, due to a lack of money?
“I know providers who are thinking of calling it a day and those who simply will not be able to afford to deliver contracts properly next spring.”
The UKHCA has launched a Save Our Homecare campaign, including a petition calling on the Government to address an expected £750m shortfall in homecare spending, in the autumn spending review. The petition is well on towards reaching its 10,000 target to provoke a Government response.
Social care minister Alistair Burt spoke at the conference and Mr Padgham challenged him to spend a day doing homecare, at the coal face of the sector.
“Whilst we have the minister with us today, I would like to personally invite him to see first-hand what it is like to deliver homecare in 2015,” Mr Padgham said.
“To see stressed, hard-pressed domiciliary care providers struggling to deliver proper care in the tightest ever financial climate.
“More and more people are needing homecare and yet less and less money is being invested into it. That makes no sense.
“If, as a country, we need better roads, better national defence, better healthcare – we wake up to the fact that somehow we have to pay for it.
“And yet even though everyone is agreed that we want better care for older and vulnerable people, the country is cutting, rather than increasing, investment in it.”
Homecare providers fear the new National Living Wage could result in a loss of providers to care for older and vulnerable adults unless it is supported by extra money in the sector.
“Our staff are our backbone and it is their hard work, dedication and commitment that keeps homecare going,” Mr Padgham added.
“They deserve every penny they receive and they certainly deserve the National Living Wage.
But it is being introduced against the backdrop of the worst financial crisis we in social care have ever faced.
“Unless the Government wakes up and starts to properly fund homecare, the National Living Wage will not happen or it will be the final straw for far too many providers.”