Councils paying too little for care
Published on 04 February 2014 12:00 PM
The vast majority of councils in England are paying less than the industry recommended minimum for personal home care, according to a BBC investigation.
Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act found that the minimum of £15.19 an hour - put forward by the UK Homecare Association (UKHCA) - was met in just 4 out of 101 cases.
BBC Radio 4's File on 4 programme found that the average minimum rate paid by councils was actually £12.26 an hour.
The minimum hourly rate of £15.19 is intended to cover wages, training and travel, although many authorities think this is too much.
One provider claimed quality care was not possible at the levels being paid.
'It's impossible to deliver quality care for the hourly rate that's been offered,' he said. 'You have to cut too many corners, cram too many calls and that's not acceptable.'
Care services provide support for essential everyday tasks
Home care services are paid for by councils across the country - and often delivered by agencies - to older people and younger disabled adults in their own homes.
These include help with getting up and going to bed, bathing, dressing, meals and medication, as well as practical tasks like cleaning, cooking and shopping.
In order to receive the services, however, people must first undergo a community care assessment to see if they qualify. This involves social services gathering a range of information about the circumstances of the person in question and their need for community care services.
After the assessment, the council that runs social services will explain whether it is able to provide services, what it can provide and for how long. The department will then carry out a financial assessment to decide whether or not the person can afford to contribute towards the cost of the service.
Commenting on the findings from the investigation, care and support minister Norman Lamb called on councils to improve their game.
'Local authorities must consider how they can do things differently to deliver better outcomes and quality care for people who need it,' he said.
'We know there are plenty of good examples of commissioning by councils, but we want this to be the reality everywhere.'
Copyright Press Association 2014