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Care companies handing back contracts

(60 Posts)
gillybob Fri 24-Mar-17 10:21:29

I heard on the news a few days ago that a lot of private care companies have been forced to hand their contracts back to local authorities as they are unable to cover their costs. Surely it is the responsibility of central government to ensure that local authorities have enough in the pot to look after the elderly. By staying in their own homes and not going into residential care these elderly people are already saving the LA's a lot of money. My late grandma stayed at home until the last weeks of her life. She had three amazing carers who came in every day and tbh I couldn't have managed without them, the alternative would have meant her going into a home.

petra Fri 24-Mar-17 11:15:05

I would replace not covering their costs with, not making enough profit.

Welshwife Fri 24-Mar-17 11:16:11

Gilly I sort of agree with your sentiments but how was your GM with regards to being lonely? I have a widowed cousin who lives on her own and does have someone going in and has family who visit but is still very lonely - whereas I know a couple who were living in their home with carers a couple of times a day and meals on wheels etc but have just sold up and gone into a care home and they absolutely love the one they are in and it has given them a new lease of life. They have care and company 24 hours a day. I think they are fortunate with the home they are in as it is run as a charity and there is not a discernible 'home' feeling to the place but more like an old hotel. The food is good and they have lovely surroundings and plenty of nice people around them. They are late 80s.

gillybob Fri 24-Mar-17 11:32:45

I'm not so sure about that mind you petra I am trying to find out how much the companies are paid by the LA's per visit and I suspect it is the least possible they can get away with. I got quite friendly with two of my DGM's carers who were on minimum wage and expected to travel in between visits for free (in their own time) which is rubbish when they are doing 10 or more visits per day. The cost of employing someone is much higher than the hourly rate they are paid.

Actually my DGM was very lucky Welshwife as she was able to stay in her own familiar surroundings until she died aged 99. She enjoyed her TV, reading and listening to her radio. She had carers coming in 3 times a day and I visited her virtually every day too. She had been quite active in the Catholic Church and enjoyed visits from the priest (not my cup of tea but it gave her a great deal of comfort) and other church members too. So I would say all in all it was ideal for her. I can understand those who are not fortunate enough to have family and friends to visit might be better off in residential care though.

Ilovecheese Fri 24-Mar-17 11:38:02

I suppose it is about choice. The person should be able to choose whether or not to go into a care home. But I also think that if we own our homes we perhaps need to put our hands in our pockets when it comes to care in later life.

gillybob Fri 24-Mar-17 11:38:59

I'm hopeless with links but from the Guardian newspaper a couple of days ago

Ninety-five UK councils have had home care contracts cancelled by private companies struggling to deliver services on the funding offered, an investigation has found

As a result, a quarter of the UK’s 2,500 home care providers were at risk of insolvency, and almost 70 had closed down in the past three months, according to the BBC’s Panorama programme

Seems like the LA's are not paying enough for them to even cover their costs.

Welshwife Fri 24-Mar-17 12:18:13

I know where we lived in Wales the LA run home was far better than the private run ones. I had heard from neighbour's about how good it was and when my friend was looking at finding a place for her mother she had very off hand treatment from several private places. When she went to this place she said the atmosphere was totally different and the staff had all been there for years.
I wonder why more LAs don't have their own places.

daphnedill Fri 24-Mar-17 13:38:45

I might be wrong, but it's my understanding that it's home care, rather than care home, providers who are handing their contracts back.

I can understand that they can't cover their costs, particularly in rural areas, where the time spent travelling to and from each client can be two or three times the time spent with the client. Councils only pay for the contact time.

The companies are paid about £15 an hour, so if a care worker is paid minimum wage, much of that will be taken up with wages, NICs, insurance, training, holiday pay, etc. If one half hour appointment takes an hour's travelling time, the agency is goingto end up out of pocket.

tanith Fri 24-Mar-17 13:52:22

I wonder whether this problem will get worse as more and more of the people doing these minimum wage care jobs return home as they are unsure what things will be like after Brexit. My niece works in a care home in North Wales and says that almost all the community carers she works alongside are from Europe and are very very concerned.

Hilltopgran Fri 24-Mar-17 14:15:20

In this area the LA has just closed the last of the care homes it ran, saying they can get a similar service in the private sector.

In the past LA were the main providers of both home care and much of the residential care. However their staff pay rates are negotiated by unions and are considerably more than the private sector pay. So sadly LAs have been exiting the provider market to become Commissioning only Authorities, a sad effect of the market economy, and in the end a money saving decision.

daphnedill Fri 24-Mar-17 14:21:34

I expect it will be more difficult tanith. In my area, it's very difficult to fill care vacancies. I know that most workers are paid well above the minimum wage, but it's still difficult to find people. Many of the care homes and home care agencies employ EU staff.

Christinefrance Fri 24-Mar-17 14:45:05

Even 10 years ago things were difficult. I ran a community care service for the LA. Staff were not allowed travelling time so officially they finished with one client at 10am and started work with the next person at 10am. If there was a traffic problem this compounded things. Staff always worked over and above their hours. The LA relied on the fact that staff were dedicated and would not leave clients without care. Having said that the LA paid a good wage and staff had all the relevant training.

Cold Fri 24-Mar-17 15:20:17

I read that the company in Liverpool that cancelled its social care contracts was only offered £13.10 per hour. I'm not sure how anyone could afford to provide care for these rates.

GillT57 Fri 24-Mar-17 16:01:58

The main reason for returning council care contracts, or not taking them up in the first place is due to the ridiculous amounts which the councils pay. This is not necessarily the fault of the local authorities, they are expected to do more than they used to and for ever decreasing amounts of funding from central government. Minimum wages cost more than the employee is paid, and a carer being paid £7.50 an hour for example will accrue travel costs, statutory paid holidays of 5.6 weeks, employer's NIC and that is before you start into training time which cannot be charged to a client, and SSP which is no longer re-imbursed to an employer.For example: if a carer has a back injury( quite common( and is unable to work for say 6 weeks, the employer will be paying just under £90 per week SSP, plus the cost of a cover employee, all for the one chargeable rate. Suddenly £14-15 per hour billing rate starts to look ridiculous. Contrary to what many believe, there is not pots of money to be made in the caring business, and most agencies are closing down as it just doesn't make financial sense.

gillybob Fri 24-Mar-17 16:53:44

Exactly GillT57 these companies are not handing back contracts because they are not making enough profit but because they are unable to even cover their costs. Let's not forget the so called living wage is more than minimum wage too which would be impossible if they are only being paid in the region of £14-15 per hour .

gillybob Fri 24-Mar-17 16:56:31

Yes, It was home care I was talking about in my OP daphnedill

daphnedill Fri 24-Mar-17 20:13:05

That's what I thought gillybob. There were posts about care homes, which have their own problems, but not the same as home care.

There are real problems in rural areas, because travelling time between clients can be half an hour or more. Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge has difficulties with bed blocking, because some of their patients live in the Fens and the hospital can't find home care. I expect other big regional hospitals have similar problems.

Luckygirl Fri 24-Mar-17 20:30:55

LA homes have always been better - the staff were better supported and trained. They were always my first choice when finding somewhere for an elderly person.

I have just received my council tax bill and it blows the mind how much it has gone up - there is a specific increase to cover care.

JessM Sun 26-Mar-17 08:11:12

And carers are not provided with company cars are they? They are required to provide their own. And you'd have to ask, who pays for petrol and maintenance of those cars?
LAs have had huge financial cutbacks and most of the public have been oblivious to this. To run an LA service or home of a good quality - one which does not exploit the staff - is costly. Unions protect LA workers from exploitation, while those working for small private companies have no such protection. The trend for outsourcing to the private sector has been with the agenda of cutting costs.
But with increases to the cost of employment and restrictions on how much councils can contribute, there is an inevitable breakdown happening.

Iam64 Sun 26-Mar-17 08:38:03

I agree that LA home and residential care provision was good. The drive towards commissioning rather than providing services was financially led of course and inevitably, it isn't possible to provide the services and make a profit.

The way in which all public services are being destroyed makes me both sad and angry.

whitewave Sun 26-Mar-17 09:31:39

It was only a matter of time really. The care workers have been carrying the burden, with impossibly low wages, no payment for the drive between clients etc. Now the companies have to pay a higher minimum wage. Their profits will be squeezed, they are not all "not for profit" institutions. Perhaps it is time that LAs just employed the charitable companies providing these services. But they must have reasonable contracts the careers are not slaves.

daphnedill Sun 26-Mar-17 09:46:49

I don't agree that services should be provided by charitable companies. Carers must be paid. Many people provide free care to friends and relatives anyway.

LAs should take home care back in house, with flexibility to employ extra staff on a need basis. Low dependancy hospitals and units should be re-opened/built for people with temporary needs, such as recovering from an op. Cuts to district nursing provision must be reversed.

There needs to be a transparent and realistic discussion about how this can be financed.

I dread being hospitalised, because I have nobody to look after me at home - and I'm not even that old.

gillybob Sun 26-Mar-17 09:51:08

It's one big mess I think whitewave . The carers my grandma had used bicycles to go go from client to client as there were a lot in a relatively small area. As I have said on other threads we have a higher than average elderly population on our town so no wonder our council taxes are going through the roof. Something has to give.

gillybob Sun 26-Mar-17 09:53:35

One of the problems I would foresee if LA's took the care back in house would be that these carers would then be employees of the LA and with that would come the inevitable extra burdens on CT payers.

daphnedill Sun 26-Mar-17 09:58:11

CT payers pay their salaries anyway with home care companies taking their cut.