Homecare service on the brink of collapse

Homecare web

The vast majority of organisations fear that their home services could face extinction this year

11th January 2018 by Gareth Jones 0 Comments

Homecare services in Scotland are on the verge of collapse and urgent action is needed to ensure that vital support for the vulnerable remains in place.

Umbrella body Scottish Care has warned that a new approach to supporting and funding care at home services is needed to prevent meltdown within the sector.

New research by the membership body for social care providers has shown that 86% of home care services are concerned about their sustainability and survival in 2018, with nearly a quarter extremely concerned.

“We are not crying wolf when we stress the precarious nature of home care in the current climate, with the results of this survey emphasising how genuinely close to collapse we are in Scotland,” said Scottish Care chief executive Dr Donald Mackaskill.

“It shows that half of the services we represent feel unable to compete for contracts because the rates and conditions at which they are set by local authorities make the delivery of dignified care impossible to sustain. And of those who do try to make it work, 40% are forced to hand that work back because it is not viable to continue operating.

“It means we have a huge number of home care services willing and able to provide high quality care in people’s own homes but who are stifled from doing so by a drive to the bottom by local authorities in terms of pay and conditions offered to those services delivering that care. The inability of services to recruit and retain staff and to pay them a good wage further cripples these essential services.”

The responses to the survey - which was undertaken in the week before Christmas - represent nearly 6,000 home care staff delivering 133,000 hours of care to more than 12,000 people every week.

It shows that nearly 40% of care at home services handed work back to councils last year due to concerns about sustainability and capacity.

Half of home care services did not apply for contracts offered by their local authority on the same grounds.

Dr Macaskill added that issues within the care sector are having a knock-on effect on the NHS.

He said: “We can no longer tinker around the edges of social care – the challenge needs to be grasped with both hands and driven forward by a political will to ensure there are a range of high quality, sustainable services available in people’s communities which also offer attractive careers for the one in 13 Scots who are employed in social care.

“If this doesn’t happen now, the consequences are enormous for health and social care, for the economy, for jobs and most importantly, for the tens of thousands of individuals and families who rely on this type of support.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “This government is taking action to protect care services, investing almost half a billion pounds of frontline NHS spending in the current financial year in social care services and integration.

“This will continue to support the delivery of the Living Wage for adult care workers. Our national health and social care workforce plan will also support our trained and dedicated workforce deliver new models of care.

“Meanwhile our draft budget will deliver record investment in the NHS as well as funding to increase payments for free personal and nursing care and further increase the care and support provided closer to people’s homes, boost mental health spending and deepen the integration of health and social care.”