Homecare contracts have resulted in patients not getting the support they need – claim


- Credit: PA

Dozens of people with urgent and end-of-life care needs in Suffolk are going without the support they require because care agencies are reaching breaking point, it has been claimed.

Care firm bosses have pointed the finger at a new home care contract, under the title Support to Live at Home, which was brought in by Suffolk County Council this year.

It is claimed that of the 11 agencies which were granted contracts to offer care, the majority were ill-equipped to deal with the number of people in need and have said a low hourly rate means care staff are having to spend less time with service users.

One agency boss, who asked to remain anonymous, has said non-contracted firms are now seeing huge numbers of people, many with end-of-life care needs, who the contracted agencies are unable to care for.

They have claimed that the sector in Suffolk is becoming “de-stabilised” and that workers are becoming disillusioned, adding: “There are going to be winter pressures, we know beds are blocked at the minute, I don’t know what is going on between health and social care but its obviously not cohesive and at the centre of this people are going without the service.

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“Everyone has a right to a quality service and my fear is that this is going to result in that quality being severely eroded long term. I know that change isn’t easy and money has to be saved but I don’t think they have envisaged this.”

Information seen by the EADT shows that on some occasions, more than 150 people in one day have been in need of care who contracted agencies have been unable to help.

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These “care packages” are then sent to the various other agencies and firms in the county.

Responding to the claims, Beccy Hopfensperger, Suffolk County Council’s cabinet member for adult care, said: “We would like to provide a better service for the people of Suffolk and that is why we carefully selected the Support to Live at Home providers in line with what our customers wanted.

“We listened to through consultation and carried out extensive work with a range of stakeholders across health, home care providers and other partners to develop the new model.

“Home Care providers, who put forward their interest in the tendering process were asked to submit prices as well as evidence of an ability to deliver a high quality service to the customer. Responses to these were drawn into a final score for providers, with the evidence of quality contributing to 60% of the final score ahead of the price which contributed 40%.

“Our previous home care service was inflexible and is not well integrated with the community needs. I would ask for patience during this time as it’s going to be a challenging and complex change but it is one that is needed.

“It will take time to achieve what we have set out to deliver, but we must go ahead with it for the residents of Suffolk.

“We will also continue to talk with, and listen to, the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers, Healthwatch and from customers and providers themselves as we continue this process.”

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