Elderly hit by care staff shortage

The Times reported on 6 January, 2017

One of Britain’s biggest providers of home care has revealed it has about 2,000 vacancies it cannot fill, accounting for about a fifth of its total workforce.

Alan Long, executive director of Mears Group, said the staff shortage had forced it to turn down work caring for elderly people on council waiting lists.

He said the winter crisis in Britain’s hospitals had deepened because home care providers are regularly unable to provide care for elderly people eligible for support. There are now hundreds of these people on waiting lists in some parts of the country, he said.

It is vital that extra money for social care allocated by the government is used to increase the pay of frontline staff, he added.

Long said the average vacancy rate in Mears branches was between 10% and 20%. “It is a massive problem and that is why, in some areas, you have hundreds of people on waiting lists who are eligible for care,” he said.

“We need to change care work to being a full-time profession, rather than workers just being paid on an hourly rate.”

Some of the leading providers of home care — including Saga and the outsourcing company Mitie — have pulled out of council-funded home care. Mears has also handed back some contracts it no longer considers viable.

In November, 39,457 days were spent in hospital by patients who did not need to be there but who could not be discharged because they were waiting for home care, according to NHS England figures.
 
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The Care Co-Operative’s view is: 


Many people staying in hospital are not waiting for council-funded provision. They will be self- funding, but, as such, get little assistance in finding the right care. The consequences of getting it wrong are severe. Older vulnerable people cannot easily be moved if a care home doesn't suit them! Chopping and changing home care arrangements is not helpful either!


Add to this that care can look like a very expensive option (although not when it's broken down! Care homes often cost less per night than some B&Bs!) 


Families can be reluctant to spend a loved one's savings that their loved one has often scrimped and denied themselves to accumulate. Especially if they are having to 'fly solo' without any expert help! 
These two issues - finding the right care and the expense of it - can add to the delays reported!