Channel 4 Dispatches raises important concerns about home care

Publicity image for Channel 4's Dispatches programme

Channel 4’s undercover reporting on home care delivery in north London (DispatchesBritain’s Pensioner Care Scandal, Channel 4, Thursday 4 April 2016), raises important concerns about the state of home care.

OACP does not condone poor support, ineffective management, or inadequate service delivery as shown in the documentary. We believe that social contact is as important as physical tasks, for people receiving care, in ensuring that elderly and vulnerable are cared for properly, respectfully and with dignity.

OACP also believes that the experiences shown by Channel 4, whilst shocking, do not constitute the majority of experience by people receiving care. This was demonstrated by a short news item on Bluebird Care (Alton & Alresford), in Hampshire, on BBC South Today on Tuesday 5 April, where the agency has been awarded ‘outstanding’ by CQC. Whilst we congratulate this Bluebird branch, we note that quality comes at a cost, as Claire Murphy, co-owner of the agency explains;

“We refused to go on [Hampshire County Council] provider’s list, because we don’t believe you can deliver quality care for that price.”

We are certain that all providers on all council lists try very hard to deliver the highest quality care that they can with the budget that they are awarded, but clearly resources only go so far.

OACP works closely with Oxfordshire County Council and Skills for Care to ensure that care providers get the right support to enable them to deliver high quality care. Home care providers in county use an electronic time management system to ensure visits are made at the right time. Currently the majority of home care providers perform above 80% compliance with 1/3 above 90%.

However, Dispatches raises real concerns about funding for social care, concerns which Claire Murphy starkly outlines. Home Care providers increasingly have two choices;

  1. to bid for increasingly unprofitable work and find a way to make it work, or
  2. leave the publicly funded market and operate solely for private funders.

Increasingly, regulated care providers are choosing the latter option.

Social care remains a rewarding and fulfilling career, despite the immense pressures on carers. We call on local government to resolve the growing gap between the cost of care and the funding available to enable providers to ensure high quality care is consistently delivered across the whole sector. Failure to tackle this issue will leave vulnerable and elderly people to face the consequences, despite the best efforts of care providers with a decreasing budget.