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Care at home in crisis

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Written by Angela Gifford

Angela Gifford, Managing Director of Able Community Care Ltd, founder and a former Vice Chairman of the UK Home Care Association – writes about the state of the Care at Home sector. This article coincides with news from the Care Quality Commission that there are 90,000 carer vacancies currently in the UK.

The Home Care Sector – How the Business Pipedream Has Burst and what an impact it’s having on vulnerable, frail people.

A regular steam of new customers, an agreed financial rate for services provided throughout the contract, invoices paid on time, cash flow projection looking good. This was what was wished for by many UK care providers who decided some years ago that Government funded customers were the route to prosperity. For a few years after the introduction of councils purchasing care packages for their local population this was indeed the situation. However, now councils have reduced Central Government Funding, their across the board budgets are continually being tightened, they have rising costs and more people needing care, it is care providers who have had to experience the fallout.

Agreed contract hours disappear, existing care packages reduced, too many care providers on Council Approved Lists to service a reducing marketplace.

Spending on adult social care in the UK has fallen in real terms since 2010 by 6% and the number of people receiving Government funded care has been reduced by almost 25%. Care providers, once a contract for a period of time has been signed, have found it difficult, to go back to ask for an addition to the hourly rate. Increased costs related to The Living Wage, the financial implications of the new pension requirements, the increasing costs of regulation and general increasing running costs cannot always be known at the time of contract signing. As a result, the fixed hourly rates, arrived at because of stiff competition, have proved to be non-viable for many providers.

Speaking with a care provider of many years, her biggest regret was that they had forgone building up their private customer base in favour of state funded clients. Her organisation now felt strongly that the future was the private customer sector but that this was going to require a new mindset for everyone who worked in the organisation. Changing a working culture established for many years, she said, would be difficult and would be a slow process but to continue to service a diminishing state funded marketplace was the route to business disaster.

Dementia goes missingThe future for a shrinking State Funded care sector is a grim prospect for any person needing care who has no funds to support their choice of who cares for them and where this care is provided. The wonderful vision of a person having choice as to where they were cared for and by whom is long gone for the thousands of people who now and in the future will just have ‘Hobson’s Choice’.

In 2017 the Local Government Information Unit published that ‘the UK’s home care industry is on the brink of collapse with companies either going bankrupt or pulling out of contracts’.

Truly the pipedream has burst.

What does this mean for you and your family?  We have lots of advice and information about care and different care options:  have a look at our Care at Home section.

About the author

Angela Gifford