Thursday, 19 July 2012

Social Care Black Hole

I feel compelled to write my angst again about social care with the announcement of the new Draft Social Care Bill this week. My question with all this is where the hell are we going? We seem to have a government which is freely admitting that the social care bill in times of finances the country won't be able to cover within the next decade. We have care agencies and care providers more interested in profit than they are delivering a quality service. We have local authorities putting disabled people on to direct payments without training them in how to become employers. Hampshire, I'm sure they're not the only authority, have taken away the direct payment advice service and replaced it with a website. Call me old fashioned, but if I have a query on direct payments whether that be employment law or employment contracts I like to talk to a person, not sit in front of a computer screen.

To me this all seems a complete mess with no solution. We all agree that direct payments and individual budgets seem to be the right way forward but are they if training is not being provided? For example how many of you realise that on wages there is a 9% contribution by the employer through PAYE? Now, if you're a lucky chap, you're PA's are self-employed and this really doesn't affect you, but what seems to be occurring is disabled people are getting there direct payment of £10.53 per hour (Hampshire rate) and assuming they can pass it all on to the PA through PAYE and getting in a right mess with HMRC.

Local authorities need to wake up to the fact that disabled people need specific training around employing people, not just on the financials but around general employment contracts, how to go through disciplinary processes and general employment knowledge. I'm fortunate because I run my own business so some of this knowledge I've already gained.

Care agencies are my bugbear. I realise I can't tar every domiciliary care agency with the same brush but in general they have both eyes on the profit margin. Training, well, doesn't happen or it happens to the minimum standard they can get away with. They pay minimum wages and overwork their employees and the rota's don't allow for travel time between calls, there's an assumption that carers can teleport! Finally, I've told you what Hampshire pay and most agencies charge between £12-£15 per hour, which usually goes up at weekends. So we've got this riddle where I get so much an hour which is below the going rate.

So social care is in a real hiatus and nobody seems to have come up with a solution. Owners of care homes and agencies seem to be getting richer and the regulatory body that oversees the care profession has no teeth and recently has been shown to miss diabolical care practices. We have a government who won't put a figure on social care and quite rightly have been criticised on how they can produce a bill with the most important bit missing. We have local authorities putting disabled people on direct payments because it's cheaper without proper training or checks. I am so pleased that I'm disabled, what's going to happen?!?!

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