Home care often doesn’t work well for residents or staff, claims Sheffield Council chief

Home care is a crucial service but often does not work well enough for staff or the people they are looking after, says a Sheffield council chief.

Friday, 1st October 2021, 3:44 pm

The council arranges more than 42,000 hours of home care to around 3,000 people in the city every week.

It is a vital service which supports people to live independently in their home or when they are discharged from hospital but the system is creaking.

Alexis Chappell, director of adult health and social care, says in a report: “Despite being one of the most inexpensive elements of the health and social care system, it is crucial in enabling people to remain at home, leave hospital quickly and avoid or delay moving to permanent residential care.

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Sheffield Town Hall

“However, it often does not function well for people, their families and carers, nor the workers providing the service, while demand and costs continue to increase.

“There are significant systemic constraints and inefficiencies which hinder the efforts of care workers and other professionals, deliver negative outcomes for people and ensure already limited funding is spent in the wrong places.”

The council faces a number of challenges in home care, which are reflective of the broader issues faced by adult social care, as well as many councils nationwide.

Home care services are responding to ever increasing demand, with the volume of council arranged care provided by independent agencies nearly doubling in the past five years alone.

In May 2016 the weekly commissioned hours were 20,500 – by August 2021 this had risen to a total of 40,610.

This has been driven by increasingly complex needs of people requiring home care but also, in response to Covid, people remaining at home when they may have previously moved to a care home.

The number of people using Sheffield care homes fell by 457 from November 2019 to August 2021.

And more demand due to larger care packages leads to increasing costs to the council with the annual spend on home care more than doubling in five years from £20m to £41.5m.

Councillors will discuss the issue at a meeting on Thursday, October 7.