What Value Is The Service From Homecare Providers?

Earlier this month UK Home Care Association (UKHCA) sent an open letter to the Chancellor on the National Living Wage warning that the costs of introducing a “national living wage” (NLW) could trigger “catastrophic failure” in the homecare market. Their argument is not that care workers don’t deserve (at least) the NLW but that who is going to fund it?

“Without increased funding to meet the increased staff costs of the national living wage, businesses caring for people in their own homes mainly serving Local Authorities could go bust”, leaving elderly and vulnerable people with no care or resorting to staying in hospitals longer, straining the NHS further, with the inevitable knock on effect to the wider population. In reality, the situation is similarly true for people funding their own care; only without an Act of Parliament forcing them to accept responsibility some will reluctantly accept an increase in costs and others will decide to struggle on without any care support.

Wow! How has it all come to this?

I could write for hours on my opinions on the history of under-funding and political short-termism with regard to social care in this country but one of the issues raised by the often negative responses in The Guardian was of what value is the service from homecare providers?

There is no metric to provide a value measurement for our services to the recipient of care and their family.

What is the value to someone like Mr M who died recently? He could not have expressed more strongly his desire to stay at home until his end. Despite his considerable pain, his home was where he felt comfortable, with a choice over what he ate and when. He resisted the advice of GPs and friends to go into a home and was only able to achieve what he wanted through the care, support and attention of our carers.

How would you measure the value expressed by one customer’s daughter who thanked us by saying how much more “positive” her Mum was after we started visiting? She thought her Mum’s slide into depression stopped by our intervention. We “provided a structure to her life, as well as regular meals which reduced the number of times she had to hospital and talking to the carers reduced her sense of isolation”. She also commented that she could get on with her life without her mother calling throughout the day when she was at work.

Similarly, how do you assess the worth of providing a service that allows a mother to stay in her family home of 63 years in Maidenhead, where she can look out over the garden she worked in with her husband,  rather than being moved into a granny-annexe in her daughter’s home in Teeside.  In addition, the family is reassured that professional carers provide assistance for her, whether it is prompting for medication and a hot meal in the evening or simply watching out for her.

So we agree that there are benefits of receiving care, but then why aren’t our political leaders encouraging all of us to save for the inevitable time when we need care? Why aren’t they encouraging the insurance sector to develop care related products that we can take out to assist in care purchases?

If it’s of value and needs to be provided, then we have to accept it needs to be paid for… or am I being too simple?

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