Councils in the UK are buying home care services for the elderly “on the cheap” according to the professional association for homecare providers.
More than 850,000 people are given support in their own home for daily tasks such as washing, dressing and feeding.
Around 80 per cent of this is organised by local authorities, which normally outsource the work to care agencies.
The United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), the umbrella group for care firms, sent Freedom of Infomation requests to more than 200 councils and care trusts to find out more about how much they paid for care.
It found the average price paid for homecare in the UK is just £16.12 an hour – almost £2 an hour less than UKHCA’s Minimum Price for Homecare of £18.01. In some places, it was below £13.
System At ‘Breaking Point’
Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock. Credit: Flickr/Number 10 Gov
The UKHCA say the new report “exposes the scale of underfunding” of the sector. They’re calling on the Government to fund care at a more sustainable level in the forthcoming Budget.
The author of the report, UKHCA policy director Colin Angel, said that rates paid by the majority of authorities did “not cover adequate wages for our vital homecare workforce and the costs of running safe and effective services.”
He continued: “These rates also illustrate why homecare providers are increasingly left with no choice but to refuse to take on, or hand back, care to authorities.
“State-funded homecare is also being rationed by councils in a way which leaves many older and disabled people without the support they need to remain independent.
“The governments of each of the four UK nations need to look at our findings and fund care properly. Continuing to muddle on as they have done for a decade is not sustainable.”
New: The prices councils in England, Wales & Scotland and HSC trusts in Northern Ireland pay for older people’s homecare. UK average is almost £2/hour below full costs. “The Homecare Deficit 2018” published today: https://t.co/iPvcpBtiVa pic.twitter.com/oW6TRKdlSA
— UKHCA (@ukhca) October 25, 2018
The ‘United Nations Principles for Older Persons’ are an important and powerful statement of the human rights protection afforded to older people, and are designed to influence national policy.
Principle 11 states, “Older persons should benefit from family and community care and protection in accordance with each society’s system of cultural values”. Principle 18 makes clear that older people should be treated fairly and with dignity regardless of “age, gender, racial or ethnic background, disability or other status, and be valued independently of their economic contribution.”
The four UK nations need to look at our findings and fund care properly.
UKHCA Policy Director, Colin Angel
Councillor Ian Hudspeth, of the Local Government Association, admitted that there was a problem, but said local authorities could not afford to pay more. He said the system was at “breaking point”.
He added: “Councils, care providers, charities and the NHS are all united around the need for central government to fully fund adult social care.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care said it would be setting out plans for the funding of social care in a Green Paper later this year.