Workforce development and recruitment and retention of home care workers are the biggest barriers standing in the way of reforming the way care is delivered to the elderly at home. This was the finding of two groups of senior adult social care professionals who recently came together at ADASS hosted Rewiring Care at Home roundtable events in London and Manchester to debate the challenges facing adult social care service providers when it comes to home care reform.
In spite of initiatives such as The Better Care Fund, The Care Act and the personalisation agenda, panellists at each of the ADASS and Younifi roundtables agreed that reform is being stifled by traditional thinking on how home care should be delivered.
It was widely acknowledged by the panellists that home care as a career path needs a complete image overhaul, the situation not helped by low pay in the profession and some media who are quick to highlight extreme examples of poor care rather than focus on the good work that goes on a daily basis.
It was widely agreed that councils need to end the task-and-time culture they have created in home care. This would liberate frontline staff and enable them to do things differently, and allow local authorities to measure the impact of the services they are commissioning.
Although it was agreed that pay isn’t a primary motivator for those working in the profession, it is clearly an issue for retention of staff as some local authorities are now paying a living wage so that they can actively compete with the pull of the retail and health sectors which pay marginally better.
One forward thinking council also mentioned that they are trying to improve career paths for carers by looking at enhanced care worker roles who can perform some of the more basic duties typically performed by a nurse e.g. changing bandages or giving medication. This also has the potential to help reduce the number of staff who need to need to visit that person each day.
Younifi, a solution provider that helps deliver better social care, sponsored the roundtable and managing director, Tony Pilkington said: “It was hugely insightful to hear the views of both the London and Manchester panellists and it showed that up and down the country, these senior directors of adult social care all recognise the key issues preventing reform in the way care is delivered at home.
“All attendees recognised that to change the way care is delivered at home, it starts with how care workers feel about the job they do, and the support and package that they receive that enables them to deliver care effectively.”
The panel highlighted a number of other issues that they felt needed addressing in order to outcomes for service users. These were: whether we are risk averse when it comes to helping people to help themselves; achieving wider person-centred care rather than care focussed on solutions to particular conditions or needs; how to better connect communities, neighbourhoods and people; and the role of technology.