Home Care Users' Group unhappy with care changes by Kirklees Council
Dec 1 2009 Huddersfield Daily Examiner
A NEW system of looking after elderly and vulnerable people in their homes is ineffective, campaigners have claimed.
Members of the adults and healthier communities scrutiny panel were yesterday told that controversial changes to home care services in Kirklees were working well.
But campaigners from the Home Care Users’ Group said there were still huge problems with the system that bosses had failed to address.
Care user Karen Jones said: “There’s still a long way to go. The issues with the system that have been brought up are just the tip of the iceberg.
“All we’ve seen here is the ticking of boxes, but the council needs to understand the impact these changes are having on the people that matter – the service users and the carers.”
The controversial changes to the service saw many people have their regular carer axed and replaced with a host of different workers.
Some care users reported they were being sent up to eight different carers a week who didn’t all know their individual needs, while others complained that they had not been consulted about the service changes.
People have also complained of care work being transferred to private agency staff.
But at the meeting Sally McIvor, the council’s head of adult services operations, insisted the changes were working well to ensure vulnerable people were receiving the best quality of care in their homes.
She said: “The changes were made due to the increase in demand for care services due to more people wanting to stay at home and be cared for at home.
“We wanted to provide opportunities for support the previous services didn’t provide. We looked at the way staff worked and ways of making sure that the in-house service was ready for the future and meeting demands.”
She told councillors that new working patterns for staff were brought in to ensure ‘better coverage’ and flexibility for looking after people throughout the day, with pay for carers increased accordingly.
Ms McIvor said staff initially worked on an eight week rota system, but admitted this had been slashed to four weeks to ensure a “better consistency of care” for people in their homes.
She admitted that there had been concerns raised that staff were not always bringing each other up to speed about the person being cared for.
But she added: “Many people out there continue to have and have had a better service.