Old folk facing care chaos after changes to service

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Council chiefs were today urged to rethink their policy of outsourcing homecare for the elderly after new contracts left hundreds of old folk without the service they were used to.

Vulnerable elderly people have lost their regular carers and do not know who will be attending to them or what time they will call.

Care companies have been hit by an exodus of staff unhappy about the changes.

Carers say they are now paid by the minute, with their wages docked if they do not stick to the allocated time for each client, and no pay for travelling time.

One company, Call-In Homecare, has written to clients apologising for the situation.

Labour social care spokeswoman Maureen Child said the council’s outsourcing policy was driven by cost-cutting.

She said: “Serious questions have to be asked about the quality of care that can be managed through certain external contracts. If something isn’t working, you have got to review it.”

Robert Mitchell, 94, who lives with his daughter Julie McLellan, 65, in Captain’s Road, has a 15-minute carer from Call-In Homecare every morning and evening.

But Ms McLellan said since the new contract started last month, there were different carers every day and the times when they called varied wildly.

She said: “It used to be fine, but since the council changed the system it has gone to pot.

“I always set my alarm for 7.30am so I can give my dad a cup of tea and his pills and he is ready for the carer coming. But the other day, my alarm hadn’t even gone off before someone came. Then the next day, another carer came at 8.30am and said ‘I hope you don’t mind me being early – I’ve got you down for 9am’.

“You never know when they are coming and you don’t know who it’s going to be.

“It’s not so bad for my dad because he’s got me here, but think of people on their own with a different person coming in at a different time each day – they won’t know what’s going on.

“The carers are fed up because all they get is complaint after complaint.”

One carer, who asked not to be named, said: “There is no continuity of care due to carers leaving and new carers starting.

“It’s very distressing for both client and carer.”

She said carers’ wages had been cut by almost a third.

“The contract states we are paid by the minute,” she said.

“And we’re not paid for travel time between visits. Clients are allocated slots of 15, 30 or 45 minutes, depending on their needs, but the carers have money deducted from their pay if they do not spend the full time at each call.”

A council spokeswoman blamed an IT system. She said: “Call-in Care experienced difficulties with staff rostering. This was an unfortunate one-off situation which we are satisfied has now been resolved.”