Jane Townson, Chief Executive of UKHCA, which represents home care companies, is calling for home care to be “centre stage” in the government’s battle to contain the coronavirus.
She argues that home care often prevents “unnecessary admission” to care homes and hospitals as it enables to people to stay living well and independently at home.
Consequently she says preventing these unnecessary admissions “should be a priority” and “supporting people at home, as far as possible, would be an intelligent and cost-effective strategy for the nation’s health and well-being”. However she says: “Instead, the opposite is happening. The majority of public and private funding, as well as media attention, is focused on hospitals and care homes, which between them support only 0.5 million people at a time.
“In contrast, over 10 million people at any one time receive or need support and care in their own homes, either from unpaid informal carers or paid-for home care workers.
“Over £152 billion of public funding is directed at the NHS, with only £6.2 billion to home care, across the UK. Therefore, Government spend on home care is only 4 per cent that of the NHS.”
Caring for people at home ‘could help reduce spread of coronavirus’
She believes that right now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, “home care needs to be centre stage in a national social and healthcare strategy, where care homes and hospital are seen as a last resort”.
Home care providers are under huge pressures financially as the pandemic has led to some people needing care cancelling calls due to fear of infection and they are having to pay out for PPE as well which has seen ‘rampant price inflation’ according to UKHCA.
Government PPE guidance states that fluid repellent face masks and eye protection are required for almost every home care visit. Each day across the UK, the UKHCA estimates there are over 1.5 million home care visits.
It says that some smaller providers are facing additional monthly costs of face masks of £13,000, when previously they would have had close to zero cost for these items. They will also have less purchasing power than the larger providers as they won’t be able to bulk buy.