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Director’s survey shows home care agencies are closing despite increase in demand

The response to a survey carried out by the Directors of Adult Social Care Services in November into home care services, demonstrates a rapidly deteriorating situation in relation to social care for older and disabled people and for carers. Since the rapid survey carried out by the ADASS in spring of 2021 the deteriorating situation has continued.

Home Care Services unable to keep up with demand

The survey found that while more care at home is being delivered, with 15% more care at home delivered between August and October compared with April to July 2021. it is still not keeping pace with increasing levels and complexity of needs. The results highlight that it is not proving possible to scale up provision further. There has been an even bigger increase (164%) in the total number of home care hours that DASSs reported were unable to be delivered. This shows that increases in need are far outstripping even this increased provision.

Impact on people needing homecare

More people are waiting for assessments, care and support or reviews. Based on figures from respondents, the DASS estimates that 204,241 people are on a waiting list for an assessment in England. There has been a 271% increase in people waiting for more than 6 months for an assessment compared to the previous survey. There has also been a 20% increase in people who have had an assessment and are waiting for care and support or a direct payment and there are 166,136 overdue reviews of care plans.

Concerns about staffing levels, business closures and handbacks, which were already high and rising, are now even more profound. About twice as many Directors of Adult Social Services are reporting the closure of home care businesses as 6 months ago.

Denial of choice

As a result of the unavailability of care and support due to recruitment and retention issues, it is estimated that only 1 in 10 people are being offered care options that they wouldn’t have chosen if a wider range of care had been available to meet their needs.

To some the only care available is in a residential care home. This means that someone whose needs would be best met at home and their preference would be to receive their care in their own home is being denied their choice. Unpaid carers are having to decide between caring for someone at home or giving up work.

Factors effecting home care services ability to deliver care

The survey confirmed that providers concerns about staffing levels, business closures and handbacks, which were already high and rising, are now even more profound. About twice as many Directors of Adult Social Services are reporting the closure of home care businesses as 6 months ago.

The rationing of funding made available by local authorities is having a major impact on the provision of homecare. It does not matter how much money the Government allocates to local authorities for homecare, the situation will not improve unless the funding is ringfenced and used only for the provision of its intended purpose.

Figures show the proportion of local authorities reporting closures, or providers ceasing to trade, for home care is 41% for the past six months. This compares to 21% for the previous 6 months (reported in the DASS Activity Survey published in June 2021). This figure was 15% for the six months prior to the onset of Covid-19. In the current survey, 46 reported zero closures; the highest number of closures given by any one council was 5.

Summary

The ADASS’s latest Home Care and Workforce Rapid Survey show the extent of risks to the wellbeing and life of older and disabled people and carers and to the care staff who support them. Recruitment and retention issues along with the rationing of funding by local authorities is leading to an ever increasing number of home care providers to call it a day.

Here at Bettal Quality Consultancy we continue to support many potential home care providers who are seeking UK registration. They should be given the financial and professional support they need to enable them to meet the demand for home care, otherwise the deteriorating situation will continue.

Albert Cook BA, MA & Fellow Charted Quality Institute Managing Director Bettal Quality Consultancy

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