New contract to boost personal care market

Posted on: 11 March 2016

Devon County Council is set to give a vital boost to personal care services across the county, setting out new expectations for care providers in return for higher fees.

Despite government cuts to funding, the council is increasing the amount it spends on personal care and support for elderly and vulnerable people in their own homes in a bid to bring greater stability to the personal care market, improve quality and raise morale among the workforce.

New contracts with local care providers, which will begin in the early summer 2016, have been agreed by the Council (see Note to Editors). The contracts are expected to be worth over £210 million over the next five to seven years and will mean increased investment in the care and support of very vulnerable people.

The contracts aims to bring:

• Higher quality care and support for vulnerable people
• Greater independence for people to live their lives as fully as possible
• Improved support to carers
• Better pay and conditions for care workers to boost recruitment and retention
• More training and support opportunities to make this a job and career of choice
• Greater certainty for providers so that they can plan for the future and improve their responsiveness

The Council, and the NHS, arrange personal care and support for more than 4,000 people a week across the county, delivering over 2 million hours of care and support to people in their own homes.

Services such as helping people to get washed and dressed, prepare a meal or take medication are a vital way to help more people to live independently at home for longer without the need for residential care or a stay in hospital.

The increased investment comes amid growing concern about a lack of personal care services in some areas and difficulties in attracting new workers into the personal care sector.

The new approach to commissioning local services aims to ensure a more stable supply of care and support and raise morale across the sector by recognising and rewarding care providers and care workers in their vital role.

A lead provider partner is being appointed in each of eight geographic areas across Devon who will be responsible for organising and delivering personal care services in that area including co-ordinating and supporting other local providers.

The new contracts also set out higher expectations on quality and working practices in return for higher fees.

Frontline carers will be paid at least the national living wage as per government guidelines for all their contracted hours, including payment for travel time and transport costs.

There will be improved support arrangements and more opportunities for training with a clearer career path.

Improved pay and conditions for frontline care workers will extend to all sub-contracted staff.

People who are already receiving council-funded domiciliary care may continue to receive support from their current carers, under the terms of their current contracts, so long as this is meeting their needs and is effectively delivered.

The intention is to maintain stability for service users and providers whilst the new arrangements settle down.

Above all the council wants to ensure that people receive safe, high quality care from care workers who want to provide the best care.

Councillor Stuart Barker, Devon County Council’s Cabinet Member with responsibility for adult social care, said:
Cllr Stuart Barker
“This is a once in a generation opportunity to put the care of vulnerable people in their own homes where it needs to be, which is at the very centre of a caring Devon.

“Good quality community-based care is essential to help support vulnerable people to live independently at home for longer and keep them out of hospital or residential care.

“This new contract is an important step in helping to improve the quality and supply of personal care services, and to bring greater pride in the sector.

“This is not about saving money. In fact we are investing considerably more. It is all about recognising and rewarding the vital work that personal care providers and their staff do every day.

“This means having a contract that pays what it takes to improve working conditions, and give staff a living wage together with more support and training so that we ensure a good supply of better quality care services for the future.

“The contract winners will be key partners in helping us to deliver this vision and by working closely with the many existing local providers we hope they can help us to drive improvement, increase efficiency and boost supply across the county.”

Posted in: DCC Homepage | Health and Wellbeing