Star date: 13th March 2011


In Part 1 of Nigel Pivaro's investigation into home support for elderly Salford people, he revealed that there had been 180 `alerts' over breaches of care for our most vulnerable citizens.

In Part 2, Pivaro reports on the culture of one company which might have led to the shocking care statistics…

Full story here…


Read Part 1 by clicking here…

Carer Paul Murphy - who had previously worked for Inspirit Care in Bolton and Care4u at Home in Salford - was transferred over to Homecare Support, along with dozens of other carers in November, after Salford Council re-organised its contracts for elderly people's home care.

He, and others, believe that it is the shortcomings of Homecare Support's system which is largely to blame for the shocking 180 alerts for breaches of care, including missing visits and messed up medications.

In the previous article we revealed how sometimes two, or even three people would turn up at an elderly person's home for one visit, while other visits were missed completely.  

"The rotas were as clear as mud and that meant people were missing visits and medication" says Paul Murphy "Other times I was booked by the company to do training courses and then accused of missing visits. But the company should have ensured that people received their visits by finding a stand in.
"The management blame the staff for their own shortcomings" he adds "The manager's phone manner was so aggressive…there's no two ways about it, I was being bullied. In the end the abuse over the phone got so bad that I had to say my phone was broke and communicate by email."

Paul also believes that corners were being cut in training…

"I was given a two hour training course in dispensing medication that should normally have been a three day course" he alleges "Staff were doing jobs they are not qualified to do."

As for Social Services or Salford Council finding out, Paul says: "There was no transparency; mistakes in rotas were covered up by the line manager and her daughter. If it was sorted, then that was okay. If caught out, you were on your own."

All these claims are robustly denied by Homecare Support which states "Our training programmes have been commended on numerous occasions, most recently for being fully compliant with National Minimum Data Set and forms the basis for our recent International Standards Organisation accreditation."

In response to allegations of bullying at Homecare Support, the company states: "At the induction meeting all staff were addressed by the Operations Director Dan O'Donoghue, who invited all staff with any concerns about anything to contact him directly…neither the HR Manager nor Dan received any complaints about bullying."

Paul agrees that he didn't make a complaint but adds "How do you complain when the person you are complaining about is the person you have to complain to?"

Another major issue that has come to the attention of the Salford Star from several sources is the frustration of carers over wages. Paul explains that if there was a double up of staff visiting the same person due to the company's incompetence, one of the two carers would not get paid.

Indeed, disputes over wages loom large, with some carers having to rely on £100 for the two week Christmas holiday.

"Wages have never been right from day one" Paul says "And at Christmas nobody received their proper wages. Like most others, I was due around £300. The wages were supposed to be in our accounts on Christmas Eve before 2pm but when the money did not appear and people phoned up, they were assured by the company that the money would be in their accounts by the close of business - instead all people received was £100. That had to last us two weeks over Christmas until the accounts staff came back in the office and sorted out the correct money."

"I am still owed around £400.00 for work I did before I left."

Homecare Support countered: "Staff who are paid on a weekly basis lodge their timesheets by Tuesday of each week for payment into their bank accounts by Friday. Since Christmas fell on Saturday this year, with Monday and Tuesday as bank holidays, the company made an advance of £100 as a gesture of goodwill, with the normal pay cycle resuming after the holidays."

Paul left Homecare Support a month ago and says he's relieved.

"I couldn't get out quick enough because the carers always got the blame when things went wrong, which they did frequently. For them to blame the workers is terrible because the carers are the ones who really care, and do a lot more than required to cover for the shortcomings of the company. No way can staff be blamed. They give 110 per cent."

This seems to be backed up by service users themselves, including Anita Calder who has been outspoken about Homecare Support.

"The standard of communication remains haphazard" she says "I recently called to say that my husband had returned from working away and I would not be requiring visits for several weeks. This was agreed upon but the carers still came regardless on at least three occasions."

Unfortunately we believe that problems described here by Paul and Anita are not only confined to one company but perhaps at least two more. Meanwhile, unlike all previous care companies operating in Salford, Homecare Support does not have a local office in the city. This is contrary to assurances made by Councillor John Warmisham in an interview with me in August 2010.

He told me then it would definitely be a requirement "that all successful companies bidding for the tender to provide care in Salford would have to have an office in the city".

Homecare Support has its local office in Altrincham town centre, a good nine miles from Salford, and it freely admits using the Ordsall Community Café as a meeting place for its business needs.

"We would use the cafe to pick up uniforms, contracts, rotas and ID badges" says Paul "but now they are using a carer's house in Ordsall"

We asked the Council if it considered that a café was an appropriate place to be running a care service from. We have, as yet, had no response to that question. However Homecare Support responded saying: "In the tender document issued by Salford City Council there was no requirement to have an office in the borough, but it indicated that the successful company should have an office within reasonable geographical distance - such as a neighbouring borough.

"The company uses the facilities at Ordsall because it is a purpose built community centre and is an excellent resource located in the community where care is delivered" the company added "Homecare Support uses this facility in a commercial capacity for which it is invoiced periodically by the Centre at the published rate. Each week it is normal practice for carers to deliver their timesheets to the senior carer at their home to save them time and travel costs of delivering these to the office. No services are run from carer's homes."

Amidst all the controversy, the hourly rate that Salford Council pays to the new care companies has increased by nearly 25 percent from £9.44 per hour to £12.24 per hour.

Homecare Support explained: "Salford City Council pays Homecare Support £12.24 per hour. In establishing the care contract between itself and Homecare Support, the Council abolished the 20 minute 'drop in' call and re-commissioned a 15minute call."

So there you have it - an increased number of calls for an increased hourly rate paid to the company. Obviously Salford Council thinks this works to its advantage but one Ordsall service user said: "They're cutting costs by cutting their hours. I only get quarter of an hour to help me wash and dress - what can the carers do in quarter of an hour?"

What indeed.
See also Nigel Pivaro's Salford Council Care Calamity click here



Mr Any Body wrote
at 1:28:17 PM on Saturday, August 3, 2013
Still a sh*t company. Taking money off customers for an hour of care and only delivering 15 minutes or so as they have 4 other customers to visit in the same time spot. Disgusting! I have tried to contact Dan (like he said to in his hour long chat to a room full of people being trained!) and have been fobbed off with a "hr" email address which goes directly to my office, to have someone call me up and speak to me like sh*t for bringing up any issues I have. Of course I have issues with taking advantage of vulnerable people, I obviously went into this position to care for people, taking advantage of them is not an option for me. The place needs shutting down, so that these customers can take their needs elsewhere and not be taken advantage of!
ADisgustedCarer wrote
at 9:27:18 AM on Friday, March 25, 2011
I agree with all the comments especially the one referring to the CARE COMISSION.why are these companies being allowed to ride roughshod over peoples lives? THESE companies need bringing to book because surly the transfer of care was supposed to make peoples lives better not as seems to be the case worse! How can Salford council get away with it as well! They are just as responsible for this farce that has been allowed to happen ! CARERS UNITE TELL UR SERVICE USERS TO STAND UP AND REPORT THESE IDIOTS TO THE CARE COMMISION .people always need CARERS not uncaring companies to " look after them "
M Shaw wrote
at 1:47:27 PM on Monday, March 21, 2011
I can't believe salford city council and social services have not pulled there finger out over all of this! I worked for care4u for several years! they had a fantastic reputation in the borough!I am a great believer in if its not broke then don't fix it!! My self and many other staff transfered over to homecare support. I Stayed with them for 3 months , i had to leave! there approach to the staff and services users wellbeing was making me ill!! I love my job, but working for homecare support made me feel disheartend in my job as nothing was being done to reslove the many outstanding issues!they resorted to saying they were "teething problems"! i felt unhappy wearing the homecare support uniform everyday!! I experienced the same problems as paul murphy has stated! a nightmare of a company!! I have since strated a new care job in a different area but would love to go go back to care4u at home...they were an outstanding company to work for!! I built up a good repor with my service users and their family's over the several years working in the salford district..but i suppose this does not matter to salford council!!! us as the genuine carers are the ones left upset by it all!!
N Johnson wrote
at 1:23:39 PM on Tuesday, March 15, 2011
I have been following these articles by Nigel Pivaro over the last few months in relation to the care of our Vulnerable Salford Adults and i can not beleive this is still being allowed to continue?? Salford you should be ASHAMED... What is still confusing me is this.. at the start of October 2010 significent changes were made in the laws and legislations on how adult social care should be provided and delivered, basically the changes meant that ' its all about the person receiving the care it is meant to be a user focused service they provide' clearly these companies think they are above compliance... almost as much as salford... how can salford promote and abide to the new laws when at the start of November they take away the choice of service users by handing the monopoly to these huge only for profit companies and obliterating what i believe was 15 small local salford companies that have delivered support within the city for a great many years... does anyone else recall such outrage and disatisfaction with our services prior to salfords fantastic changes taking place??? when is someone going to contact the Care Quality Commision who these companies are governed by?? the council are also answerable to them as well... when is someone going to get this in a far more open and larger arena??? this needs to be on crimewatch because it truly is criminal what is happening to our people in Salford..
Jane wrote
at 11:21:58 AM on Tuesday, March 15, 2011
How is this still going on... will salford not learn from these appauling errors before something fatel may happen! Before these huge companies took over the care from 15 smaller well established agencies, there never seemed to be problems of this magnitude with our elderlys home care, service users and carers were treated with the care and respect they deserved, service users were cared for as individuals now they are just numbers ... mmm so much for the personalisation that is so important, its all about greed and money now, nobody cares for the vunerable people out there many of whom cannot or do not know how to speak out and protest to such a change in their care. Personalisation is the way forward and yet service users and carers alike had no freedom of choice about their care or for the carers, their jobs, they had no choice they had to move over to these new companies or face possible unemployment. I know many many carers and as of yet have not heard a good word said about this particular company in the way they talk to and treat their staff and their service users alike, and as for previous comments from certain members of the public about Salford carers being lazy, you will always get lazy people in every walk of life, carers alike, however all the carers that I either know personally or by reputation exceed what is expected in their jobs. They work long hours dealing with some very difficult situations they genuinely help our elderly and vunerable people because they CARE and without them what would happen, and for little pay, well even littler now by all accounts! How could this agency not pay their staff at christmas because of bank holidays.. Il bet the Directors and managers had their pay packets and to insult them by saying they were giving them £100 as a goodwill gesture, unbelievable! Salford are trying to white wash over this sham and are not doing a very good job of it, Why this story has not been on the news yet is beyond belief after watching the One Show the other night with an article on public loo's which in comparison is menial... SALFORD COUNCIL need to sit up and take note and deal with this situation before it is to late...it is better to lose face than lose a persons life which will probably eventually happen.
Daniel Richardson wrote
at 11:20:00 AM on Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Reading this is shocking but unsuprising, typical Salford Council... shoot first, ask questions later... there was nothing wrong with how the Care was in the first place.. Yes there could of been some improvement, but not a complete overhaul in how everything is being dealt with... But yet everything will be swept under the carpet until a serious incident occurs such as a elder person dies in the care of carer... In which by the sounds of it the Homecare Support will deny all knowledge, pass all the blame onto the carer and wash there hands with it.... (touch wood this doesnt happen) This kindof issue should be shown on the News on TV!!
truthhurts wrote
at 6:32:46 AM on Monday, March 14, 2011
One of the recurring themes of these stories investigations into Salford 's Social Services concerning adult and childrens services is the incompetence of the sytem from the top down. Cllr Warmisham should take a leaf out of President Truemans maxim the buck stops here. It has landed in Warmisham's lap several times over the last few years not least with death of the little girl. Yet like he continues in arguably the most sensitive council department when he clearly he is not fit for purpose. And what of her majesty's inept opposition are they even aware of what is going on why do they not challenge this chaos? Why is it it left to an online magazine surely Salford's children and elderly deserve better than this Owen, Garrido and fellow cohorts, pause a minute to reflect as you next fill in your expense and attendance forms and hang your heads in collective shame for not doing more.
UoS wrote
at 8:03:38 PM on Sunday, March 13, 2011
Another great article. How has the public failed to recognise that introducing private firms into health and social care invariably leads to a race to the bottom and the erosion of quality? These spivs are only in it for the money. That a Labour council should be taking such a lax attitude to such issues speaks volumes.
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