Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said:
“We welcome Healthwatch England’s report on the quality of homecare providers. Our own review of social care complaints showed that for people receiving care in their homes, it’s often the little things that mean so much to them in maintaining their dignity, independence and a good quality of life. Consistency of care is vital to those who rely on these services.
“Comments, compliments and complaints should be an integral part of any provider’s quality monitoring and improvement planning. Care users and their families should be confident that any feedback they share about their care will be responded to appropriately and that their providers will use any learning to inform service improvements.”
Rob Burley, Director of Policy at Alzheimer’s Society, said:
“The key themes of this report expose that homecare workers are not fairly or adequately equipped with the skills they need to support vulnerable people with dementia who make up 60% of homecare users and have very complex needs. We have heard of cases where poor quality homecare is leaving too many people with dementia spending the day in soiled clothing, going without food or water, or ending up in costly hospital or care home admissions.
“This is yet another warning signal that the crumbling social care system is laying intolerable stress on both staff and people with dementia, leaving homecare workers with their hands tied behind their backs. Social care reform must be top of the Government’s agenda, and we must have a properly funded system that ensures that people with dementia can live independently in their own homes for as long as possible, fully supported by well-trained homecare workers.”
Bridget Warr CBE, Chief Executive of the United Kingdom Homecare Association, said:
“As a society, we should be proud that the vast majority of people receive good support at home, but concerned that this is not always the case.
“Healthwatch’s report adds to the growing body of evidence on the human impact of a fragile care system. UKHCA strongly believes that the solution is properly resourced services, commissioned in a flexible way, so that front-line care workers have sufficient time meet people’s needs in full.”
Janet Morrison, Chief Executive of Independent Age, said:
“With growing numbers of older people experiencing care needs, local authorities place a big emphasis on home care. This Healthwatch England report highlights too many things that still go wrong in domiciliary care.
"From missed appointments as care workers rush about under huge stress, through to medicines getting mismanaged, and unsafe care – in many areas home care still isn’t delivering what older people have a right to expect.
"However, as the report attests, at its best, home care enables individuals to remain independent, close to friends and family. The government now needs to come forward with its promised consultation because there is still unacceptably high variation in the quality of home care, and other social care services.”
Home Instead, Managing Director, Martin Jones, said:
“Today’s Healthwatch report highlights that high quality homecare is an invaluable way of offering older people a choice of how they want to live their later years; it offers the chance for them remain in their own home and stay connected to friends, family and the community of which they’re a part.
“We feel passionately that quality homecare should be the first consideration as a viable, credible care choice. To do that, we need to drive up quality across the entire sector and ensure that people considering care at home are aware of the choices open to them, such as direct payments and private pay. We hope the report prompts people to think about the importance of continuity of care, building care plans and planning ahead.
“Regular communication is key to ensuring high quality which is why we have an ongoing dialogue with our clients and CAREGivers and every year we commission an independent survey*, measuring our clients’ satisfaction with all elements of our service, from care planning through to their relationship with their CAREGiver . This year’s survey has told us that 96 per cent of clients recommend us and 95 per cent felt perfectly matched with their CAREGiver. 95 per cent of our CAREGivers are extremely proud to work at Home Instead. This feedback is crucial to strive for excellence and highest standards.
“We deliver high quality, person-centred care every day with visits that last a minimum of one hour – so there is no rushed care and always time to talk. As an exemplar provider, with the highest number of Care Quality Commission ‘Outstanding’ ratings and the Queen’s Award for Innovation in recognition of our relationship-led model, we have created a blueprint for quality homecare for the elderly.”
Cllr Izzi Seccombe, Chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said:
"Home care services provide the vital support for some of our most vulnerable citizens to remain independent in their own homes. Councils are committed to driving up standards of care and work closely with local providers to try and continuously improve services for people who rely on home care.
“This report shows that while most people report that their services are good there is a need to improve services. However, the financial pressure facing services is having an impact and even the very best efforts of councils are not enough to avert the real and growing crisis we are facing in ensuring older people receive the care they deserve.
“The continuing under-funding of adult social care, the significant pressures of an ageing population and the National Living Wage, are combining to heap pressure on the home care provider market. This study shows the strain providers are under, and emphasises the urgent need for a long-term, sustainable solution to the social care funding crisis.
“While the £2 billion announced in the Spring Budget for social care was a step in the right direction, it is only one-off funding and social care services still face an annual £2.3 billion funding gap by 2020.
“It is absolutely critical that the Government brings forward its Green Paper on the future of social care announced in the Queen’s Speech, and that it works with local government leaders in delivering a long-term sustainable solution for social care. This must address the issue of long-term funding, but it must also create the conditions necessary to ensure the development of the right kind of care and support services.
“This is the only way to protect vital support services, like home care, ensuring older people and those with mental health conditions, learning and physical disabilities live dignified and fulfilling lives.”
Margaret Willcox, President of the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS), said:
“Home care is essential to enabling older and disabled people to remain in their own homes. They and their families need and deserve it to be of high quality. Every minute of every day dedicated home carers make a difference to over a million people’s lives.
“Most adult social care services in England are providing people with safe, high-quality and compassionate care.
“That they are doing this in the context of rising demand and inadequate funding is a tribute in itself but there is always room for improvement and this report provides helpful feedback that both commissioners and providers can use.”