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Report: Home care ‘in a fragile state’ with some workers ‘unable to boil an egg’

Staff coming at different times and missing appointments have also been highlighted in the Healthwatch England home care report.

People who receive care at home have described going two weeks without a shower, getting their evening meal at 3.30pm and receiving care from workers who are “unable to boil an egg” in a new report.

Staff coming at different times and even missing appointments have also been highlighted in the Healthwatch England report on home care.

People receive care at home for a number of reasons including getting help with day-to-day tasks such as washing, dressing and cooking or help taking their medication.

The Healthwatch report, drawn from experiences shared by more than 3,000 home care users, their families and staff, suggests that home care is “in a fragile state”.

Across England there are more than 8,500 home care providers, collectively helping an estimated 673,000 people.

Yet Healthwatch identified a number of problems in various parts of the sector including; staff being unfamiliar with the needs of their clients as set out in the care plan, staff not having enough time to fulfil all their duties, the level of skill held by care workers and care packages being “designed to meet the needs of the service provider rather than the service user”.

Issues identified to Healthwatch include:

:: Healthwatch Redcar and Cleveland was told by one home care user: “Sometimes they give me a shower but they go over their time. Most of the time they haven’t got the time to give me one so I go a couple of weeks without one and that is not right, I feel dirty.”

:: A woman in her 80s told Healthwatch Bradford her carers were unable to boil an egg or make the bed, while another said care workers needed to be taught “home care common sense”.

:: A relative told Healthwatch Halton: “I’ve tried to change my mum’s teatime slot, many times, 3.30pm is not teatime.”

:: A family member of a home care user in the Isle of Wight said: “Sometimes you question the logic of getting someone dressed and breakfast at 11.30am and then providing lunch at 12.15pm.”

:: A care user in Barnet saying: “I am diabetic and sometimes carers are late or don’t show up and that really affects my medications and insulin administration.”

The report authors wrote: “It’s clear that home care, like the social care sector as a whole, is in a fragile state.”

They added: “Many of those who spoke about their experiences said they valued the dedication and experience of those sent to care for them.

“However, where carers lack experience and basic skills, such as being able to wash someone or make them breakfast; this can result in very poor care.”

Healthwatch, the health and care consumer champion, stressed that most people had positive things to say about their domiciliary care – with many older people praising the service because it enables them to remain in their own home and to maintain as much independence as possible.

Neil Tester, deputy director of Healthwatch England, said: “We heard examples of compassionate care from dedicated staff, but people also talked about care that doesn’t meet even basic standards.

“Given the challenges facing the social care sector, it is more important than ever that people’s voices are heard. So if anyone has a story they want to share or an idea they think might help, I urge them to get involved and speak to their local Healthwatch.”

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