Suffolk set for changes to home care services after bosses admit ‘unrealistic’ and ‘ambitious’ contract didn’t work

Changes are being planned for the home care service in Suffolk Picture: THINKSTOCK

Changes are being planned for the home care service in Suffolk Picture: THINKSTOCK - Credit: Thinkstock

Plans for a major shake-up of home care provision in Suffolk from next year have been revealed – with social care chiefs vowing that lessons have been learnt from previous disruptive changes.

Updates to the home care contract in October 2015 to the Support to Live at Home model resulted in a one provider per geographical area approach, regardless of the variety of care needed.

The move left confusion for dozens of patients who had to adapt to new carers, while issues over getting in touch with providers were also raised.

Speaking at Wednesday’s Suffolk County Council health scrutiny committee, home care bosses admitted that the model was “unrealistic” and outlined changes for the new contract.

Clare Smith, project lead, said: “The Support to Live at Home contract was too ambitious.

“We basically tried to say it didn’t matter what level of care you needed or what range of care you needed.

“It was very disruptive for customers and meant that all the customers were supposed to transfer and that provided an awful lot of upset to customers.”

Most Read

The new plan, which is being prepared for when the current contract ends in September 2019, will mean a range of providers will be available to better meet the various needs of patients.

Existing patients will not see their care change in a bid to minimise disruption, but the new plans will be implemented for new patients.

Ms Smith said that communication with patients will happen earlier, with better handovers between providers when a patient does change carer.

As part of its work to develop the new scheme, bosses spoke to care providers to find out some of the key issues, with recruitment of carers and communication between providers among the key issues.

Healthwatch Suffolk distributed surveys to 2,000 patients and carried out 50 detailed interviews to highlight issues raised by patients and families, such as timekeeping of carers and getting hold of on-call agencies.

It then put forward recommendations which it plans to monitor, including implementing realistic travel times, offering clear pathways for staff and letting patients and families know as early as possible when changes are made.

Luke Barker from Healthwatch Suffolk said: “It’s our hope it will provide a strong evidence base at Suffolk County Council in improving home care services.

“Home care will remain as a priority for Healthwatch Suffolk and we will continue to monitor any feedback we receive.”

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter