At-Home Care Shortfall in Gwent Improves but Hundreds of Hours Still Unmet, Annual Report Reveals
MORE than 800 hours of at-home care isn’t being provided every week in one area of Gwent, a report has highlighted.
However the figure has been described as an improvement from last year, when at peak times there were more than 2,000 hours a week of care not being provided across Monmouthshire.
The county council has to provide care at home, either through its own staff or most often through private carers, to around 650 people – which works out an overall weekly demand of 8,177 hours.
But Monmouthshire council’s chief officer for social care, Jane Rodgers, in her annual report, has said that of those 8,000 plus hours, 834 per week aren’t being met. Her report stated: “Overall our weekly unmet need within home care has improved from last year.”
When the report was discussed at a joint meeting of the council’s performance and people scrutiny committee, Labour councillor Jackie Strong said: “We were told a year ago it was about 2,000 hours of unmet care. It is really to be applauded that’s now down to 834.”
But she asked if unnmet care meant people are being delayed from leaving hospital, adding that she was unsure if the council’s approach of training and assisting people to be become self-employed ‘micro carers’, able to provide care in their local area, could address the demand, with 15 new names added to its micro care directory since April 2022.
The Caldicot Cross councillor said: “15 people – that’s a drop in the ocean with over 600 people needing care at home.”
Ms Rodgers said daily discussions take place on the “balance” of providing care for those most in need and “where care hours are available” so that people can be discharged from hospital.
On the micro carers, she said 15 have made “quite a difference” in having more care available and acknowledged finding therapists to work in community reablement teams, with many appearing to prefer to work in hospitals, is another recruitment challenge facing the social services directorate.
Conservative councillor Rachel Buckler asked about the “eliminate agenda”, a Welsh Government requirement that councils no longer use for-profit providers of children’s care.
Ms Rodgers said “uncertainty” around that and how providers will respond has increased competition between local authorities searching for placements.
Green Party councillor Ian Chander, the cabinet member for social care, said a training session for all councillors on the eliminate agenda is to be organised this month. He said: “It does prevent a number of challenges for us as well as opportunities.”
Usk independent Meirion Howells said a constituent had suggested to him the council paying the real living wage to foster carers would help it meet a shortfall of at least 35 in house foster carers.
He was told the fees and allowances paid are under constant review but Ms Rodgers admitted it would be difficult to match the amount paid by private agencies. She said the Wales-wide fostering support body is also reviewing fees while the council also offers non-financial support to foster parents.
Other issues raised by councillors included waiting times for family support services and counselling in schools but Ms Rodgers said those have been “driven down” by alternative measures including using “supportive students” in schools and group work to “reach out to more children.”
The social services chief said: “Waiting times now are quite positive and there are no significant waiting times for this at the moment.”
The report will next be considered by the full council.
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