"Councils cannot wash their hands of their responsibilities…" UNISON
A Care Quality Commission Report, issued today, has found that up to a quarter of providers are failing to meet quality and safety standards. Surely this was inevitable, as private companies look for profits over care, and councils look to slash care budgets.
Salford Council itself is currently trying to `outsource' or privatise its home care service to cut £639,000 from its Adult Services budget over the next few years, and last Saturday, Iris, a Salford home care worker, warned of the dangers, at the Salford Against the Cuts public meeting in Swinton (see here).
"We go into the community and enable people at the most vulnerable times in their lives to get back on their feet" she explained "We're giving medication and physio, virtually doing nurses jobs but if we're put with a private agency we'll have just ten minutes with people to look after them."
Iris added that Salford Council's own Home Care team has already had to pick up the pieces when four private agencies looking after the ill and vulnerable were closed down. Now the Council want to employ such agencies to care for the city's old and ill people.
"By using the threat of agencies they are bullying us to take redundancy" she explained "It's either take voluntary redundancy or be passed over to the private sector. Apart from saving our jobs, this is about the need to help people."
The Care Quality Commission Report revealed a whole catalogue of concerns about the service old and elderly people are getting…
* Missed or late calls and inconsistent weekend services
* Lack of staff knowledge and skill, particularly with regard to dementia
*Inadequate assessment of needs including reviews and updates
* Lack of detailed care plans including choices and preferences and complex
* Lack of coordination of visits requiring two care workers
* Lack of involvement of family or carers.
* Failures to report safeguarding concerns in line with local policy, out-of-date procedures and staff not understanding safeguarding or whistleblowing procedures
On How Providers Support Their Staff…
* Staff feeling unsupported by their management teams and not always being able to deliver care in the right way because they are too rushed, with no travel time and unscheduled visits added to their day.
* A lack of planned supervision and performance monitoring for staff.
* Training needs not being identified, or if they are identified, they are not met.
* Staff not being confident in using equipment.
* Induction not always being completed, or not following recognised standards and not monitored.
"People have a right to expect to be treated as an individual, to be able to exercise choice, and to make sure their carers are aware of their specific care needs" says David Behan, CQC Chief Executive "We found plenty of evidence of this however we also found elements of poor care which happen too often."
In the wake of the Care Quality Commission Report, public sector trade union, UNISON, has warned of a crisis in homecare…
"The current economic environment makes it impossible to provide the dignified, respectful, high quality care that the elderly and vulnerable need and deserve" says Helga Pile, UNISON national officer for home care.
"However, despite Government cuts, councils cannot wash their hands of their responsibilities" she adds "It is time for councils who commission or provide these services, to take responsibility for the welfare of those who receive them and for the workers who deliver them. They must do far, far better than they are now.
"Unscrupulous private financiers should not be allowed to cream millions out
of an underfunded system, whilst providing seriously substandard care" she explains "In some cases this has had appalling consequences. Home care workers are undervalued and poorly paid. Zero hours contracts are widespread and not paying workers for the time it takes to travel between care appointments, is nothing short of exploitation. "Private companies who pay the minimum wage and giving scant attention to training, has a hugely damaging impact on recruitment and standards."
When the Salford Star's Nigel Pivaro did his own investigation into privatised adult care in Salford he found some disturbing breaches of care…
See Adult Care Horror – Part 1 – click here
See Adult Care Horror – Part 2 - click here
Read the full Care Quality Commission Report - click here
UPDATE: 19th June 2013
Salford Council Social Care Boss Storm As Home Care Privatised - click here