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SALFORD COUNCIL CARE CALAMITY
 

Star date: 2nd December 2010  

OLD AND VULNERABLE LEFT IN COLD

Last week, Salford Council was awarded `excellent' status for its Adult Social Care services. But following a re-organisation of care for the city's older and vulnerable citizens, many have actually been left without adequate care.

Nigel Pivaro investigates the process that has seen loads of small Salford based care companies edged out in favour of big organisations from outside the city…and the initial affects on our cared for community…

Click here for full details...


SALFORD COUNCIL CARE CALAMITY
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"By bringing in companies from outside the city they have inflicted suffering and hardship on the most vulnerable people in society…We are hearing back from former carers and clients alike about the chaos out there" Nicola Donavon Care4 U at Home


"They cannot play fast and loose with people's lives, especially the sick or physically disabled" says wheelchair bound Anita Calder, 57, who suffers from multiple sclerosis and sensory neuropathy.

Anita has been receiving home visits for three years to ensure that she is fed and to help her with domestic chores while her husband is away working in Scotland through the week. She had nothing but praise for the company that looked after her prior to November 1st this year. But since then, everything has changed.

"My own visits have been missed and carers have turned up either at the wrong time or with no idea of what my needs are" Anita explains "I have been told from various carers of a 91-year-old lady, a double amputee, who was left without several visits. Nobody knows how vulnerable you feel especially when you get strangers coming into your home.

"I don't blame the carers, they can only go where they are told" she adds "The fault lies with the new company, Homecare Support, that has replaced the one that everybody was happy with."

Salford's overhaul of Domiciliary Care had been lambasted as a chaotic shambles by clients, carers and client's relatives alike since the reorganization of care took place across the city recently.

The reorganization affects over 1,400 Salford residents, classed as older and vulnerable, who receive home visits. It's seen Salford Council's Adult Services get rid of 15 out of 17 Salford based companies, replacing them with seven companies, most of which are from outside Salford.

Dozens of people, many housebound, have been reportedly left without visits for days on end, sometimes missing vital medication. There have been reports of either three carers turning up at the same time for a visit or just not turning up at all.

Following interruptions to her own care visits, and on hearing of problems affecting people even more vulnerable and dependent than herself, Anita is now determined to speak out

"Ideally I would like to go back to Care4Uathome where I knew the girls, a company I have had no problems with at all" she explains "What is the point in having an office in Altrincham when you are looking after people in Salford?"

According to a warden who runs a sheltered housing unit, who would not be named, the use of carers from outside the city is part of the problem…" We get them phoning up asking for directions" she said "which might explain why they have been late or sometimes do not turn up at all."

Back in September the Salford Star talked to Salford Council's Lead Member for Adult Services, Councillor John Warmisham, about the forthcoming reorganisation of care provision in the city. He told us that all companies would be required to have Salford based offices.

"All companies will have Salford bases" he said "The tendering process has come about due to contracts being up for renewal…and companies have won the contracts on the basis of performance, replies to a questionnaire and costing. The unsuccessful companies have not been able to meet the specifications."

When we put Councillor Warmisham's explanation of the tendering process to directors of one of the Salford based companies that lost its care contract they disputed his version.

Nicola Donavon and Kay Svolinkas ran Care 4U at Home from an office in Eccles for twelve years and have had an Excellent rating from Salford Council for five years running. They claim that the contracts were won and lost on the basis of a questionnaire.

"The whole process was based on how well you ticked the boxes" Kay explains "We were asked to racially profile and sexually orientate the carers who we employed, and feel we were penalised on the basis we did not employ people who fell into certain categories. We were told we had scored badly on diversity questions.

"Well of course we employ mainly white British people because we have been in business for several years and that was the demographic pool we recruited from, as are most of our clients" she adds "We feel we have been lied to, and that the clients have been lied to. They were told that they would receive continuity of care with the same carers being assigned to them. That has not happened and in many cases people have not received visits at all."

Fellow director Nicola Donavon underlines the sentiments: "If they are saying that the new contracts were awarded on assessment of performance then they are lying, none took place whatsoever, it was based solely on the Questionnaire.

"As for the contracts being up, that's rubbish" she argues "We never had a set time limited contract, it was just ongoing. Care4 U at Home has always met with standards set by Salford Adult Services.

"We understand that the Council needed to cut the number of companies in order to cut costs by rationalising" she adds "but the whole process has been unfair, and by bringing in companies from outside the city they have inflicted suffering and hardship on the most vulnerable people in society.

"We are hearing back from former carers and clients alike about the chaos out there. Clients want to come back to us, which they are entitled by law to do, but are being told to just give the new companies another chance."

Georgina Wood, whose 74 year-old mentally handicapped brother needs four visits a day, is also unhappy with the service her brother is receiving. He is also under the care of Altrincham based Home Care Support and she claims they have still not come up with a reliable rota for his visits.

"It's not the carers, it's the company" she says "Three weeks after the change over from the old care company I am still waiting for a rota. They claimed not to have received my brother's care plan from social services, so I had to take the plan down to their offices myself. When I got there it looked like a building site with wires hanging down from the ceiling. I was fourteen years with the old company that was based on Irlam's O the 'Height without problems, what are they doing with an office in Altrincham instead of Salford?"

"The company tries to blame the carers, and Social Services try to blame the company" she adds "but I have told Social Services they are at fault because the buck stops with them. They are the ones that sacked the old company and put this new company in place, based on their assessment."

 

Councillor John Warmisham, Salford City Council's Lead Member for Adult Social Care, responds: "In three companies, all or the majority of residents have the same carers and have experienced little disruption to their services.  This has been helped by staff continuing to work in that area and moving to the new company.  Two companies have been hit hard by staff going elsewhere and they have had to induct and train new workers.

"The new system has been in place for just one month and will take time to bed in to ensure all residents receive the care they expect.  We have been pleased at the way the seven companies – four of which are based in the City - have been keen to work closely with us to make sure any problems at the beginning can be dealt with as quickly as possible".

Homecare Support responds: "Homecare Support was contracted to provide care to approximately 150 service users in Salford, commencing 1st November 2010.  As part of the out-sourcing of this service care employees were transferred under the TUPE process from outgoing provider's employment to that of Homecare Support.

"Regrettably, around a third of these transferred employees opted, at extremely short notice, not to report for work on the contracted date of 1st November leaving the service severely understaffed and many service users short of care. Homecare Support acted swiftly to fill any gaps in service provision by moving its care force around the area and bringing staff in from outside the borough.  However some service users experienced interruptions in their care plan. Homecare Support has agreed with the local authority a process to remedy this situation and is continuing to see improvement to the services delivered."
 
 
* Last week, Salford City Council Adult Social Care service was awarded an `excellent' rating by the Care Quality Commission. One of its recommendations, however, was that Salford Council "Ensure that service users know what action they can take when they feel their services may not be up to the standard expected."

 

 

 

 

 

Ed wrote
at 12:18:40 PM on Tuesday, December 7, 2010
A quick point... Although this change over has been a complete shambles, the previous set up was far from perfect, but it did work better than the set up now. I know the social services did try to weed out the poor performing companies, but have sadly been let down by the new ones... My relative was being cared for by one of the poor performing companies, and the social services said this new one would be better, and many of the carer's swapped over to this new company, but the new one is worse than the old one, it's not expecting to much is it for the new one to be even slightly better than the old one? Sadly it seems so.
 
salfordian at heart wrote
at 10:06:27 AM on Tuesday, December 7, 2010
Sack the incomptent companies and reinstgate the competent ones. Then sack the head of department. Its not Astro Physics or even Rocket science
 
sally wood wrote
at 8:17:21 AM on Saturday, December 4, 2010
What will it take to bring Salford Council to its senses a spike in the death rate of people receiving home visits? a singular death in appalling but avoidable circumstances of some receivering care? I hope not, but if that happens and there is every chance it will, then shame on you Salford Council and Social Services. Yet again they are so desperate to make this work that they will not admit they are wrong at the possible expense of peoples lives and certainly their well being How do sleep at night? Not easily I hope!
 
vicky wrote
at 12:34:45 AM on Saturday, December 4, 2010
This cant be happening You take a bunch of decent companies that the services users like the council gives top marks to the carers are happy to work for and you sack them and put in outsiders who cant do the job Is this a spoof article or what?
 
Nachtschlepper wrote
at 6:24:17 AM on Friday, December 3, 2010
There are services that have no place in the private sector. It is easy, far too easy to criticise those doing jobs on the front line, as the dim wit below tries to do. Private companies are interested in one thing only; profit. The only answer is to renationalise all industries where the publics welfare is concerned, ALL healthcare whether it is the NHS or private care homes, education, gas & electricity suppliers, transport. All these things affect us at some point in our lives. The well heeled council leaders & executives are well out of it with huge salaries & 'emoluments' & will, in all probability, use private companies for everything they need. The rest of us are left to scrabble about trying to make the best of a trully fucked up situation, yeah I used a naughty word, but I am pissed of with the whole scene. There is a need for drastic change in this country & it needs to be soon. OK rant over now lets all think beautiful thoughts & it wont seem so bad.
 
concerned carer wrote
at 3:35:59 AM on Friday, December 3, 2010
I too work for homecare support and am totally shocked and very concerned at the way this transfer has been handled. I have worked in Salford for 10 yrs and there has only ever been minor problems which have been swiftly sorted by the agencies and social services, now however it is chaotic, service users have been left days without visits or had several carers turning up for the same visits, the carers up untill last week were recieving daily phone calls ( sometimes as late as 11pm) to tell them what their calls would be for the next working day. We were assusred that we would be caring for our regular service users so they got continuity THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED. When you ring the office to report any issues - no access etc no one seems interested and we are not informed of the outcome, sometimes you cant even get through to the office and if you leave a message you very rarely get a call back. Salford City Council have thrown everything at these companies to help they have had their own in house team out doing visits as they were so worried about how it was going, social workers are constantly phoning service users to check they have had their visits etc. This should not be the case as has previously been stated if it's not broken-dont fix it. The council dont want this change to be seen as failing so the old & vulnerable people of Salford will just have to suffer until such a time that this mess gets sorted, we are now 5 weeks in and there has been very little improvement. As for homecare's response how can they blame the carers? maybe if they had showed them some initial support and done even some of what they had promised they would not have lost the confidence of the staff, even so if as they state they have done these processes before then surely they should have had some contingency plan in place... IT IS A SHAMBLES!!!!!
 
paul wrote
at 3:35:53 AM on Friday, December 3, 2010
This story and the information contained in the comments 21st century beggars belief john warmisham by many accounts is a Decent bloke who is woefully out of his depth and if he is a decent bloke should do the decent thing and step down What is needed is an investigation into the tendering process how on earth were these incompetent companies allowed to replace the competent one .Everybody in Salford Social Services and related agencies knows the exyent of the problems especially in central and south salford it is time you looked into your consciences and challenged your political masters about the mess they have left you to deal with a whistle blower amongst you would be a good start. Furthermore what are the so called opposition politicians doing about let me geuss now organising a christmas lights switch on in worsley as in the case of the conservatives. Or as in the case of the lib dems Norman Owen thinking of clever things to write for his Advertiser column and dreaming of his next appearance on the politics show come on the old ,and vulnerable of salford deserve better than this try doing the job you were elected and paid to do question oppose challenge or let's have new blood coming forward who will be capable of riding salford of this incompetent regime.
 
mary ferrer wrote
at 11:35:10 PM on Thursday, December 2, 2010
Over the last few weeks I have heard lots of very worrying stories regarding our older people and the care they have been getting since this change over. Residents used to have the same carers and they knew what the persons needs were they were a life line, a friend as well as a carer. in some cases the vistis of these cares would be the only contact the person would have with the outside world. Now they may see 3/4 carers in as may days, they don't know the resident and its a case of get in do what ever and out. I have heard of carers who don't know how to use a microwave, one when asked for egg and bacon put a raw egg and raw bacon on the plate, the fact the carer had little English did not help. If residents are not getting the visits or the care they need we could see deaths if this is not addressed. The weather is bad and getting worse older people need warm drinks, hot food and someone to CARE and from what I have heard this in some cases is not happening. If it wasn't broken why did they change the care. It was working till all the changes came into place.
 
N J wrote
at 2:22:04 PM on Thursday, December 2, 2010
In response to 'grumpy but right'... ignorant and wrong more like it... salford people have lost their work ethic.. this is a serious issue, there are good care workers out there that are having their reputation damaged by the lack of organisation of these new companies, there are so many good carers out there that CARE and your small minded comments are not helping the people of salford who are suffering at the hands of these companies.. the people of salford who have worked all their lives to be treated like they do not matter, how much longer are we going to allow the older people in this country be treated in this way, if you or yours had been effected by these changes i am sure your comments would be very different...
 
georgina wood wrote
at 1:22:46 PM on Thursday, December 2, 2010
I WONDER IF SALFORD SOC.SERV. ARE STILL PATTING THEMSELVES ON THE BACK FOR THEIR GREAT CARE- CHANGEOVER PLAN? MAYBE ONE DAY THEY WILL NEED CARE- THAT WILL PROBABLY BE THE ONLY TIME THEY WILL REALLY UNDERSTAND THE DAMAGE THEY HAVE DONE ...WHAT A SHAM!PLEASE PLEASE SEND THIS FILE TO OUR SALFORD M.PS. THAT HAVE INSTIGATED THIS CRAZY PLAN IN THE FIRST PLACE...
 
grumpy but right wrote
at 1:22:21 PM on Thursday, December 2, 2010
So typical what can you expect these feckless lazy so called carers let the companies down at the last minute salford people have lost their work ethic.
 
N J wrote
at 11:46:45 AM on Thursday, December 2, 2010
Please let me take this opportunity to congratulate Salford on their Excellent star rating!! however will you achieve this status on your next inspection/assessment????? i doubt it... How an earth did you achieve this??? let me tell you, you achieved of the back of the hard working carers and the companies that employed them and managed a service well, companies like Concern in HomeCare, EdgeLea, Care Watch, Care4U, Maybe if you had of looked and appreciated what high standards you already had in place and taken the ' dont fix what aint broke' attitude you would not be in the mess you are now... and you are.. What is sad is that the vicitims in this are not being given the choice or opportunity to rectify this situation as you have taken away that choice by dictating who provides their care. thank god there are some amazingly caring and loyal carers out there who are prepared to stand up and be counted. put this right before you end up losing the good ones in this industry.
 
G. wrote
at 10:51:16 AM on Thursday, December 2, 2010
I work for Local Solutions another provider.. The same problems as above.. No access, calls being missed, late allocation of carers, office staff going out to do carers calls . Are these people qualified to provide care do they have CRB and POVA in place very worrying.. Again controlled by call monitoring. We are told its to ensure that the call has been done if that is the case why must we call in and call out at every job. Rates being slashed and they expect care to stay the same. Foreign employees and out of the area girls who dont know the areas. Even office staff dont know the geography of the areas as they as from Liverpool not salford. Our local office is in Ardwick not even in salford time sheets beng dropped at a office location in salford.. No concept of how we are all feeling at all just keep being told things will improve will its been four weeks now and everything is stll up in the air. Carers have lost a lot of money because of call monitoring I thought the whole idea was to keep the service users happy with their existing carers that they have had for years that in practise is not the case. Because we are told you cannot fit into your time alloacted.. Crazy when people are getting late calls or no calls at all. As much as they deny this is not happening its is very much so.. The whole change over is a disgrace clients wanting to move ovr to Direct Payments just so they can go back to the old providers thats if that company is still there after salford have basically shut them down due to pulling their contract.. I have had clients who want to go for Direct payments and social workers talking them out of it these are vunerable people who needs are not being taken into account its all about cost savings and effeciency well there is noting efficent in whats realy going on out there in the community its appauling and needs to be rectified as soon as possible..
 
Joanne simpson wrote
at 10:50:55 AM on Thursday, December 2, 2010
My name is Joanne Simpson I'm a carer in the community been a carer for sixteen years .worked for care 4u@home ltd for 7 years and what a sham it has come to .am currently on maternity leave and have been tuped over to Homecare support .you phone for wage details no one replys also send out your wage slips with no stamps and you have to pay at the post office £1.32 .also they told me they'd not received my mat b1from my other employers which is not true Nicola &kay my managers sent out my file with everything in tact they just couldn't be bothered to find it ,my managers sent a copy of the email which was sent to Homecare support .also the staff that have tuped over weren't given any work because they refused to change contracts and a few of them left .they also phone carded up at 11pm to change there service uses the night before . Another carer from a different agency was told she had to do days and if not she'd better have a plan b for someone to look after her children as this girl only works teas . They seem to me like they are not family friendly and not very flexable .staff get paid the wrong wages or no wages and have to wait till the week after for what they ough them this is the big fantastic Homecare support would you like them to look after your family I wouldn't !!!
 
prefer not to say wrote
at 6:32:41 AM on Thursday, December 2, 2010
I work for one of the new providers and its a joke. People left without carers. Carers off sick or on holiday wth no cover put into place till the last minute. Keys unavailable for entry into properties. Carers hands are tied by the new control of call monitoring while we are being dictated to about how long we should be in a call there are people being missed and left vunerable because we are being told " you cannot fit it into your rota" when in reality we can.. Calls have been assesed years earlier and not reassesed when the call length could be reduced. therefore elivating extra time to be given to other people. While call crammimg cannot be condoned the system worked and everybody had there needs cared for on the new BIg brother system people are suffering.... Go figure.... Chaos. I have been working in the Care industry for several years but I now feel I cannot do my job I have lost all confidence in the industry and I will be leaving very soon...
 
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