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Home care system stuck in 'crisis'

Published on 13 June 2013 10:00 AM

Norman Lamb has raised concerns regarding the care that disabled and older people currently receive in their own homes.

The care and support minister declared that the present system is going through a 'crisis' that cannot be allowed to continue.


Unfed, unwashed and sitting in the dark

He pointed out that some people in need of care only receive a 10-minute visit, leaving them unfed, unwashed and sitting in the dark for hours because they are unable to get out of bed.

In response, leaders from the sector are set to examine how to transform the way disabled and older people are cared for at home.

'Need to transform care'

'The majority of home care is good but we have a system that can incentivise poor care, low wages and neglect, often acting with little regard for the people it is supposed to be looking after,' said Mr Lamb.

'We need to transform care now for the sake of the 300,000 people currently getting home care and for the millions more who will need it in years to come.'

'Minimum wage abuse'

He believes carers should not be constrained to giving care in 15-minute slots, while those in need of care should not have to endure a different care worker each time they have a visit.

In addition, carers should not suffer 'minimum wage abuse' where they do not receive minimum wage because of non-payment of travel time.

Once-in-a-generation changes

The minister is calling on everyone involved in the system, whether they're home carers, managing directors or those receiving care, to come forward and share their views on how to make the system work.

He claims that more needs to be done, despite the Government doing its part with once-in-a-generation changes to social care laws and how care is paid for.

A recent Care Quality Commission report suggests that 25% of all home care fails to meet the five basic care standards, which leaves people feeling 'vulnerable and undervalued'.

Age UK's response

Commenting on Norman Lamb's concerns, Michelle Mitchell, Charity Director General at Age UK says:

'The funding pressures which result in tight home care visits are having a devastating effect on both the older people relying on these services, as well as the staff forced to choose between rushing visits or arriving late for their next client.  

'Care for older people must be more than just a tick-list of tasks to be completed as quickly as possible.

'Often a care worker is the only regular contact for isolated older people and rushed visits which allow no time for even brief pleasantries are dehumanising. Many older people also do not receive any care, despite needing help with everyday tasks such as washing, dressing, preparing food and cleaning their teeth.

'Age UK estimates that there are currently 830,000 older people who need care and are receiving no formal support - these are figures that are not acceptable. 

'We welcome Care Minister's Norman Lab's commitment to improve home care systems but to  stop the system sinking into even further into crisis we need a firm commitment from the Government that more money will be put into the system and the new national eligibility criteria will be set at "moderate".

'Many people will feel badly let down by the government if only those assessed as having "substantial" needs can get help with future care costs, including being able to benefit from the  lifetime cap on care costs.

'Good standards of care make both moral and economic sense. Well-funded social care can allow people to remain part of their community, ease the often unbearable pressure on family carers and avoid preventable hospital admissions thus reducing the costs and additional pressure on the NHS.

Copyright Press Association 2013

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Last updated: Dec 05 2018

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