In recent weeks the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has produced its annual report into the state of care over the last 12 months.  It stated that the number of people requiring care is rising rapidly.  This is largely due to an ever ageing population, for example people aged over 65 will increase by 20% (2014 -2024).  We are all living longer but as a consequence of this we are livng more years with poor health.  The result is more pressure on ambulance call outs, higher occupancy of hospital beds, people waiting longer to leave hospital due to a lack of community care, and relatives providing ever increasing amounts of unpaid care.

Against this rapid increase is a mixed picture on the ability to provide care.  In terms of home care it varies across the country but many providers are struggling to recruit, in some areas agencies are handing back council contracts due to low pay rates, they have found the living wage has rapidly raised the wage bills and despite rising demand over 1600 companies left the sector.  There is also uncertainty in the home care sector, for example it is not clear how much carers should legally be paid for a sleepover and a danger exists that the current rates do not cover the carers wages.

On a more positive note 78% of services are now rated as “GOOD” and many (82%) of those which underperformed improved on later inspections. Good organisations have strong leadership, embrace new technology and look at new ways of working.

Our owner (Mark Booker) comments “we welcome this report and recognise a great many issues in it.  We are in a strange situation where the need for home care is rising rapidly yet a lack of capacity means people are taking expensive hospital beds for longer.  In Lancashire public sector care is woefully low paid and this can only put pressure on quality and it is unsurprising so many companies are leaving the sector as the books have to balance.  Hourly care rates need to rise so that investment can be made in staff training, quality assurance and carers’ wages and conditions improve.  Care will always vary in cost throughout the country but we back the UK Home Care Association that a minimum hourly rate should be put it place.  The CQC can inspect companies but standards will only be high if investment can take place.”