Care providers face an incredible challenge in the face of councils' funding crisis
National home care provider Right at Home agrees with industry experts that it is no longer possible to deliver high quality services through many local councils, due to the budget constraints that local authorities have faced in recent years.
It has supported calls from the UK Homecare Association (UKHCA) for providers to be paid a minimum of £15.19 an hour, to cover wages, training and travel.
Currently only a small number of councils are meeting this figure.
Right at Home’s Quality Assurance Manager, Liz Walker, said: “Low charge rates equate to low care worker wages".
“Our rates allow us to pay our carers properly and to invest in their continued training. As a result, our care teams feel valued and are happy to go the extra mile when out in the field. They are a dedicated and loyal workforce and we depend on them to maintain the high standards of home care that we are proud to provide.
“In many cases we provide our services to people who are able to top up their council funded budget and choose their own care provider, through the Direct Payment scheme.
“But the many elderly and vulnerable people who are not in a position to do this are being forced to accept substandard care; where corners are cut, their visit times are reduced and they are not treated with any dignity because their carers are always having to rush on to the next job.
“Underpaying staff leaves them feeling undervalued, and in many cases carers’ goodwill is taken advantage of, as they are expected to fulfil their duties to their clients without the extra pay. This is a totally unacceptable situation.
“Low pay also means that carers feel obliged to move providers to gain extra money. This poses a further problem for clients as they are unable to benefit from a continuity and consistency of care staff – it is really important for clients to be cared for by a regular team of people who enjoy their job and are allowed the time to do it properly.”
UKHCA's Policy Director, Colin Angel said "It is essential that a viable regulated homecare sector is available to support the care of older and disabled people who choose to remain at home. To this end, the price paid for care must cover the costs of the workforce, including - as a minimum - full compliance with the prevailing National Minimum Wage, including the time spent travelling between service users’ homes."