Funding for home care in Sheffield is ‘complicated and confusing’ says report

Getting financial support for care at home is ‘complicated and confusing’ say Sheffield families.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 19 March, 2019, 12:56
Sheffield Town Hall

People who have home care say there is a lack of clear information and upfront advice about financial entitlements and filling in long forms could be a ‘burden”. People also wanted more support through the financial assessment process.

It was highlighted in a wide-ranging report by Healthwatch which looks at home care in Sheffield.

The independent body, which helps influence and improve how services are designed and run, gathered the views and experiences of home care users across the city.

One man, known only as John, told Healthwatch that the major issue was the financial system.

He said: “I need supplements to help treat ME such as massages. The finance team through the council and NHS are pointing fingers at each other about who should be funding this, and the result is that no one is so my health is deteriorating.

“The systems are too opaque, and information isn’t always accessible. I can’t read and fill in lengthy online forms and people won’t always tell you what you are eligible for, so you have to look it up yourself, and the guidance is difficult to follow.

“I want some sort of independent officer who can provide support around finance and other terms relating to care.”

Another care user called Phil told Healthwatch that he was unable to use his financial allowance to suit his needs.

He was unable to put some of his financial support money towards carpet cleaning that was needed due to disability-related incontinence. Yet he felt that access to cleaning was important for health and hygiene reasons.

Healthwatch says care needs assessments are done well and in general, families were happy with how their relative’s assessment was carried out and with the subsequent care plans.

But it added: “Accessing financial support was highlighted as being complicated and confusing by users of home care.

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“They told us there was a lack of clear information and upfront advice about financial entitlements and the wider implications of care costs, and that filling in long forms could be a burden. It was suggested that people need more support through the financial assessment process.

“People wanted more choice and control in how financial entitlements can be spent. Users of home care told us that strict rules mean that people can’t always spend it on things that matter to them and satisfy their specific needs and priorities.

“Similarly, family carers felt that a lack of flexibility in their relative’s care plan meant that care workers couldn’t carry out tasks that were a priority for their relative as and when they mattered to people.”

Healthwatch also highlighted difficulties in finding the right information. Its report said: “When we used an internet search engine, we easily found useful factsheets on the Sheffield Council website, but struggled to find them when we started searching from the council website home page and using the search tool.

“Although we found an easy read version, it wasn’t clear how to request information in other formats or how to begin the process of accessing home care.”

Healthwatch says Sheffield Council needs to review its information and how easily it can be found on the website and signpost people to other helpful organisations.

Social care chiefs need to look at how assessment forms can be improved and whether people need support filling them in.

There should be a review of current support available and the possibility of a financial support officer who is independent from the council. And there should better flexibility in how financial support can be spent.

The Healthwatch report can be read here:

http://democracy.sheffield.gov.uk/documents/s34436/Healthwatch-Home-Care-Report.pdf