An investigation by the Daily Mail has revealed the reality of ‘indignity’ and ‘suffering’ in the council-funded home care system.
The investigation, alongside an inquiry by former care minister Paul Burstow, found a large number of failings in the care being delivered. Staff were inadequately trained, poorly paid and not given enough time to deliver the most basic level of care.
High staff turnover meant vulnerable older people could see as many as 50 different carers in a year, many who didn’t understand their needs. In the worst cases, this created a gap of information and crucial medication was not administered, endangering elderly people.
“Home care is low paid, ill-trained and low-morale”, Burstow said. “Staff see caring as a stop-gap job, rather than something they want to pursue as a long-term career.” As a result, he says: “There's no continuity, no relationship there. You're just a commodity being passed from one worker to another. There's no sense that you're a human being.”
Part of the issue is the widening gap in funding. According to Colin Angel of the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), “home care services have become increasingly rationed. Visit times have been cut to the bone to save councils money.” The minimum cost of providing care - paying the minimum wage - is £15.74 an hour, yet a recent survey found councils paying as little as £9 per hour. In some cases, carers aren’t paid for travel time, so they are forced to cut down their 15 minute visits to as little as eight, leaving elderly people struggling to cope.
“This report makes heartbreaking reading” said Fiona Lowry, CEO of the Good Care Group. “It’s the reason our carers are employed, not self-employed, and receive ongoing training and a good wage. The minimum amount of care we offer is an hour a day, as any less does not give enough time to provide a high quality of care. We also ensure you receive care from a small, consistent team, who form real relationships with your loved ones and know their needs.”