Last year we published Care and Continuity: contingency planning for provider failure. It was designed to be practical guidance for council officers to help them prepare plans in case there was a significant problem with social care providers of home, residential, nursing or specialist care. In the case of financial failure, councils are legally responsible for picking up the pieces and ensuring that all clients have their social care needs met and are helped to find new providers. Councils also rightly feel that they have a moral duty to support people whose providers have fallen over for any reason
As pressure continues to rise on everyone in the social care system, we see more and more threats to the ongoing business health of home care providers. As councils are getting squeezed, some are either trying to maintain hourly rates or reduce them. Providers’ main costs are labour, and this is rising mainly due to a rise in minimum legal hourly wage – the National Living Wage.
This leaves a number of providers with a hard choice: short their workers or go out of business. Profits in home care are already at a low margin, meaning for some it makes more sense to invest money and effort elsewhere. We’ve already seen several home care providers exit the market, and this is likely to be a rising trend. A recently published Laing Buisson report indicates we may be at a ‘make or break’ moment in home care, with further deterioration of quality driven by low fees and time and task commissioning.
At a system level, this could be a disaster. But for individuals it can be catastrophic.
Following on from our Key to Care report and working with support from Mears Group, the LGiU is planning to tell the story of how pressures on social care and provider exit affects all of the people involved – from the care users and their families, to care workers, managers and social workers and care commissioners.
We are looking for a number of individuals who have lived through that experience and will help us tell that story. We want to hear from people who have experience of working for failing care companies, from people whose care companies have gone out of business, from individuals and their families who have experienced this disruption and from people who work in local government who have had to pick up the pieces.
The process will be a telephone or face-to-face interview lasting up to an hour and will be written up in first person format anonymously. We can also accept personal journals or written reflections of the experience.
If this is you, or someone you know, please contact me at Ingrid.Koehler@lgiu.org.uk so we can help to share the story.