Concerns aired over new care home contracts

Concerns have been raised after a huge shake up in home care saw North Yorkshire County Council awarded multi-million home care contracts to just three providers.

Until the contracts were put up for renewal more than 20 domiciliary care companies had council contracts to provide care for elderly people at homes across the district.

Care companies have described the situation as a ‘mess’ while the new providers rush to recruit staff ahead of the contracts start dates later this month.

The new contracts, worth £2.5m per year have been awarded to the Mears Group, Castlerock Recruitment and Harrogate-based Continued Care. The Mears group, which provides building repairs and maintenance alongside home care, and Castle Rock Recruitment have launched recruitment drives in the district.

The Independent Care Group, which represents care providers in North Yorkshire, said it is concerned as recruiting for the care industry is very difficult.

Keren Wilson, chief executive of the Independent Care Group said: “We have had concerns raised to us about the fact that two of the providers are outside of the area.

“It will be very difficult to recruit people to work in home care. We are concerned for existing providers and for the clients, they want to keep the people who care for them the same. This is personal care, people coming into your home to give you a bath, it is very personal and people should have a choice in it.”

Last month a report by the UK Home Care Association Ltd (UKHCA) found that poor working conditions and poor pay were leading to a high staff turnover rate in the industry but NYCC say cost was not the deciding factor in awarding the contracts.ddd

Kathy Clark, assistant director of commissioning for health and adult services at NYCC said: “We had very patchwork offering now there are three providers we can work closely with.

“The procurement process took into account both affordability and quality, we balanced it looking 60 per cent at the quality and 40 per cent at the cost.”

The council say their aim is for as little disruption as possible for the residents who are being cared for. Arrangements are in place so that staff members working at a company which lost out in the tender process can apply to transfer to the new companies, however many firms will continue to offer services through direct payments so it is unclear how many staff will move.