Serious safety concerns found with a Sheffield home care provider forced council chiefs to intervene to tackle a potential ‘crisis.’
Council reports reveal a ‘very high number’ of house calls to elderly people from provider Housing and Care 21 were missed in July with ‘very serious risks’ because of staff shortages.
In August the firm said it did not feel able to continue providing services in Shiregreen, Wincobank, Darnall, Tinsley, Bradway, Lowedges and Greenhill for 177 people.
The council agreed a report to contract a new care provider ‘with immediate effect’ if needed and to establish a network of providers. The report said proposals were to resolve a ‘potential immediate crisis’ .
But after further talks Housing and Care 21 has decided to try and ‘recover’ the situation, so a new provider is not being brought in.
Coun Mary Lea, cabinet member for health, said the council had taken ‘immediate and urgent action’ and had provided staff to work alongside the company.
Improvements have been made and the council will continue to monitor the situation closely while everyone affected had received a letter, she added.
Housing and Care 21 s ‘apologised for failings in the delivery of home care in Sheffield’ and said recruiting and retaining care staff had been ‘very challenging’, resulting in a staff shortage.
A spokesman added: “The service in recent weeks has been significantly below our own high expectations.”
Extra resources have been put into recruiting staff and new systems put in place.
However opposition councillors have raised concerns that the decision to recontract providers was ‘rushed through’ as it was made by a council officer rather than going through the cabinet system.
Coun Penny Baker, deputy leader of Sheffield’s Liberal Democrats, said: “I am very concerned that this decision is being rushed through without an opportunity for proper scrutiny.
“Home care is a literal life-line to some of the most vulnerable people in our city and if the council gets this wrong it will have devastating effects for the service users and their families.”
But Coun Lea said: “This was done through a speeded-up decision making process, rather than cabinet, which would have taken more time.”