Councils are imposing such strict time limits on homecare visits that it threatens to compromise the dignity and safety of vulnerable people dependent on that personal care, a report from the professional body representing the homecare sector has warned.
Over a third of councils have raised the alarm over risks to the dignity or safety of the care that local councils require them to undertake for older and disabled people, a survey by the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) has found.
In England, almost three quarters (73%) of homecare visits commissioned by councils are for periods of 30 minutes or shorter, with one in for no more than 15 minutes, the UKHPA’s report ‘Care is not a Commodity’ says.
The UKHCA believes that the very short visit times that councils are commissioning for the more than 640,000 people receiving homecare services across the UK, is the main reason for reports of homecare services appearing to be rushed, or lacking sufficient dignity.
Cost-cutting at the expense of people’s care appears to be driving a culture where homecare is being commissioned, in some cases, like a commodity and the human consequences of decisions are not given proper weight, the report says.
Three-quarters (76%) of providers said that, over the last twelve months, the council(s) they worked with had become more interested in securing a low price than a quality service.
Bridget Warr, UKHCA’s chief executive, said: “The way councils and trusts purchase homecare has a significant impact on the experience that people have of these services.
“We need to consign visit times that risk the dignity and safety of elderly and vulnerable people to the past and ensure resources are used to the greatest benefit of the client.
“We are calling on central, devolved and local governments in England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland to take urgent action to address the crisis in funding affecting people right now, and to bring forward a comprehensive solution to the longer term funding of social care – to ensure that we have high quality sustainable care for everyone who needs it – wherever they live – today and in years to come."