VIDEO: Bradford Council probe reveals 'flying' care visits ARE a problem

Ludmilla Tchernucha and her mother Santa at home

Ludmilla Tchernucha and her mother Santa at home

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Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Photograph of the Author Exclusive by , Bradford Chief Reporter

A probe by Bradford Council has revealed concerns about some ‘flying visits’ provided to vulnerable people who receive care at home.

Last summer a row broke out over claims that home carers were being given only 15 minutes to wash, cook and care for patients.

Councillor Amir Hussain, who is in charge of adult social care, “categorically denied” that was happening but, in October, the Labour-run Council started an inquiry to find out how often such short visits were happening.

Its initial findings have now revealed there are “inconsistencies” in the time allocated to the tasks to be completed for some patients by the private companies commissioned by the Council.

Each of those cases is now being examined in more detail, said Janice Simpson, the Council’s strategic director of adult and community services.

“We have been reviewing our information systems to determine the use of 15-minute units of domiciliary care, and our analysis is nearing completion,” she said.

“We can confirm that while 15-minute care visits do feature as an element of the overall care delivered to people, these visits are mainly for the following tasks: assistance with medication, preparation of a light snack (sandwich and hot drink) or well-being checks.

“We have identified some instances where the time allocated to the tasks to be completed appears to be inconsistent and we are looking into these to make sure the allotted time is appropriate to the tasks required.”

Ludmilla Tchernucha wants to keep her elderly mum in her own home for as long as possible, but to do that she has to top up the level of care provided by official services herself.
“If I wasn’t here, the care she receives would simply not be enough,” said Ludmilla, 55, who has been looking after her mum, Santa Tchernucha, for the past couple of years.
Ludmilla visits her mum’s home every day, in addition to the three daily visits her mother receives from carers.
Visits start in the morning to make sure Mrs Tchernucha is out of bed and gets washed, dressed, has breakfast and her medication. It’s usually just one person who stays 20 to 30 minutes.
Ludmilla arrives at lunchtime to cook, clean, shop and supervise medications.
Carers return any time between 4pm and 5.45pm. In about 20 minutes they warm up a meal, supervise medications and check other needs. Between 8.15pm and 9.45pm they come back to put Mrs Tchernucha to bed if she is still up and check she is comfortable. The stay is about 20 minutes.
Mrs Tchernucha, who is almost 80, has various problems such as heart failure, pulmonary hypertension and osteoporosis. She lives alone in her semi-detached home in the Barkerend Road area.
Care was organised by Bradford Council’s Adult Services department and the family contributes to the cost.
Ludmilla says the service is ‘adequate’.
“They are quite caring, with a lot of patience,” she said. 2A few times, no-one has turned up and I have to ring to ask why. It’s usually that they are overloaded.
“Mum is happy with them and overall it’s a positive experience.
“But a lot falls on me. Sometimes the carers are rushed. They would like to stay longer but they can’t. They just have to move on to the next client. One of my sisters helps but it is taking it's toll on me.”

Liberal Democrats group leader Councillor Jeanette Sunderland has demanded answers about several areas of concern about the district’s home care service and she has successfully called for a scrutiny investigation which will start in May.

She said: “Clearly the latest thing is they’re actually trying to fix it behind closed doors.”

Coun Sunderland said 12 key points about domiciliary care in the Bradford district needed looking at amidst concerns that homecare workers were being pushed below the minimum wage.

A national report by the union Unison found 57.8 per cent of homecare workers are not paid for their travel time and/or paid below the legal limit.

“My concern is that is what’s happening in Bradford and I want it formally scrutinised in this area,” Coun Sunderland said.

“The issue for me is about whether or not the action of Bradford Council is driving people below the minimum wage because people are having to pay for their own uniform and not being paid to drive between jobs – that’s what Unison is saying and I want to know if that’s happening in Bradford.

“There are a lot of questions that need to be answered around domiciliary care in Bradford.”

Coun Sunderland said she had received complaints from people being charged too much for care and had spoken to carers who were reduced to tears by the situation, but scared to speak out for fear of losing their jobs.

“Lots of people are frightened,” she said. “People who work in the domiciliary care system are frightened. Frightened of losing business and frightened of going out of business.

“It’s down to the scrutiny to get it out in the open.”

Bradford East Liberal Democrats MP David Ward welcomed the decision to hold the scrutiny probe.

He said: “We have worked closely with care providers who are concerned about funding available to them and their difficulties in delivering services based on quality as opposed to cost.

“Unless we do something this will become a crisis. It might be we simply have to spend more and bite that bullet.”

Coun Hussain, said he was unaware of the scrutiny call, but added. “We have looked into this further and as we speak we are investigating in some depth.

“The work is in progress and it has come to light that there might be some instances involving the 15-minute care system.

“We are addressing the way care is delivered in Bradford.

“We are not necessarily saying there has been a problem but it is our duty to review the way we do things in Bradford, especially at times of financial pressure. We are always looking at ways to do things differently.”

Councillor Mike Gibbons, the Conservative chairman of the health and social care scrutiny committee, said he could not comment ahead of his committee’s inquiry.

Comments (9)

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9:51am Mon 31 Mar 14

collos25 says...

Now there is a surprise.
Now there is a surprise. collos25
  • Score: 1

10:39am Mon 31 Mar 14

skulamus says...

I worked in the privatised care industry for 20 years. This included private care agencies which are used by councils for care at home tasks. The system is dreadful for carer and client alike.

I was given many fifteen minute slots to prepare meals, assist people to toilet or change dressings. The pay was often minimum wage, which meant I was walking or using public transport (which was expensive as it could involvent using several transport companies). The slots could be 5 miles apart. If we complained ,we were told we were at the bottom of the list for other potential work. We were always late because of this. Lateness also occured because we were human and if the task took longer,we still did it .We also found it hard to leave on time if requested to do something additional . The service relies on carers doing what they are meant to do-Care. .

We worked many unpaid hours.We were not paid travel and did not get anything other than our basic rate except time and a half on Christmas.
The contracts were zero hour and we could have two, three or four hour gaps between jobs. We had to be available between seven am and ten pm.

The agencies and councils were well aware of these circumstances. The councils were happy with low tenders as were the care agencies, who were desperate to secure large contracts. The workers suffered as did the clients. Staff turnover was huge as we all were looking for better jobs. This meant that clients could have a stream of carers coming into their house.

Unions have been aware of this, since privatisation started. It is only now that people are talking about the horror of zero hour contracts. I left School during the last recession, which limited my options then. I did not think it could get any worse than then. Sadly I am wrong.
I worked in the privatised care industry for 20 years. This included private care agencies which are used by councils for care at home tasks. The system is dreadful for carer and client alike. I was given many fifteen minute slots to prepare meals, assist people to toilet or change dressings. The pay was often minimum wage, which meant I was walking or using public transport (which was expensive as it could involvent using several transport companies). The slots could be 5 miles apart. If we complained ,we were told we were at the bottom of the list for other potential work. We were always late because of this. Lateness also occured because we were human and if the task took longer,we still did it .We also found it hard to leave on time if requested to do something additional . The service relies on carers doing what they are meant to do-Care. . We worked many unpaid hours.We were not paid travel and did not get anything other than our basic rate except time and a half on Christmas. The contracts were zero hour and we could have two, three or four hour gaps between jobs. We had to be available between seven am and ten pm. The agencies and councils were well aware of these circumstances. The councils were happy with low tenders as were the care agencies, who were desperate to secure large contracts. The workers suffered as did the clients. Staff turnover was huge as we all were looking for better jobs. This meant that clients could have a stream of carers coming into their house. Unions have been aware of this, since privatisation started. It is only now that people are talking about the horror of zero hour contracts. I left School during the last recession, which limited my options then. I did not think it could get any worse than then. Sadly I am wrong. skulamus
  • Score: 25

12:19pm Mon 31 Mar 14

Oldwestbowling says...

Care in the community was never going to work in the way it was intended because it's just too expensive to implement. There are far more elderly service users staying in their own homes with the help of many agencies. The above lady is very lucky that she has the involvement of her family. Many family members think they shouldn't have any input at all. They have the mindset that Social Services should do the lot even when the service user has dementia. It can only get worse as the care staff are run off their feet because of the amount of people they have to visit.
Care in the community was never going to work in the way it was intended because it's just too expensive to implement. There are far more elderly service users staying in their own homes with the help of many agencies. The above lady is very lucky that she has the involvement of her family. Many family members think they shouldn't have any input at all. They have the mindset that Social Services should do the lot even when the service user has dementia. It can only get worse as the care staff are run off their feet because of the amount of people they have to visit. Oldwestbowling
  • Score: 8

12:48pm Mon 31 Mar 14

Joedavid says...

Oldwestbowling wrote:
Care in the community was never going to work in the way it was intended because it's just too expensive to implement. There are far more elderly service users staying in their own homes with the help of many agencies. The above lady is very lucky that she has the involvement of her family. Many family members think they shouldn't have any input at all. They have the mindset that Social Services should do the lot even when the service user has dementia. It can only get worse as the care staff are run off their feet because of the amount of people they have to visit.
Your right more family involvement required.
After all these senior people brought their children into world and cared for them when they were unable to care for themselves.
[quote][p][bold]Oldwestbowling[/bold] wrote: Care in the community was never going to work in the way it was intended because it's just too expensive to implement. There are far more elderly service users staying in their own homes with the help of many agencies. The above lady is very lucky that she has the involvement of her family. Many family members think they shouldn't have any input at all. They have the mindset that Social Services should do the lot even when the service user has dementia. It can only get worse as the care staff are run off their feet because of the amount of people they have to visit.[/p][/quote]Your right more family involvement required. After all these senior people brought their children into world and cared for them when they were unable to care for themselves. Joedavid
  • Score: 6

1:17pm Mon 31 Mar 14

bradfordian says...

Not all elderly people have family. Some may have outlived their family. They should have good quality care, all elderly people should receive quality care.
Most of the people I know who receive care receive a maximum of 15 minutes of care. That is under no circumstances enough.Let us see what the council comes up with.
Not all elderly people have family. Some may have outlived their family. They should have good quality care, all elderly people should receive quality care. Most of the people I know who receive care receive a maximum of 15 minutes of care. That is under no circumstances enough.Let us see what the council comes up with. bradfordian
  • Score: 6

2:45pm Mon 31 Mar 14

bd7 helper says...

Ia other money making scheme? Upsetting!!
Ia other money making scheme? Upsetting!! bd7 helper
  • Score: -1

2:49pm Mon 31 Mar 14

philosospher says...

I can support from personal close knowledge of the system all of the previous comments ... both the local authority and various care agencies are fully aware of the situation and are in denial if they claim only now to have begun a serious investigation ... a case of turning a blind eye ... everyone pretended the system worked and everyone knew it didn't ... government both local and central needs to look honestly at the kind of society it has, and is, creating ... the education of all to lead healthier, more personally responsible lives, the abandonment of the quest for never-ending growth and smaller, more self-managing populations would be a good starting point.
I can support from personal close knowledge of the system all of the previous comments ... both the local authority and various care agencies are fully aware of the situation and are in denial if they claim only now to have begun a serious investigation ... a case of turning a blind eye ... everyone pretended the system worked and everyone knew it didn't ... government both local and central needs to look honestly at the kind of society it has, and is, creating ... the education of all to lead healthier, more personally responsible lives, the abandonment of the quest for never-ending growth and smaller, more self-managing populations would be a good starting point. philosospher
  • Score: 4

5:58pm Mon 31 Mar 14

tracy p says...

This is happening everywhere, not just Bradford, Leeds as well. Has a recent manager in domicillary care i can verify that people do not get paid between jobs. It could take 20 minutes between each call depending on traffic and there is no pay for it. also if you get held up at a call you can be late for the next one. It is heart breaking and is very difficult for carers that genuinly care about their service users. Also the amount the councils pay private companys barely cover the costs, once you have paid for wages, training, administration etc
This is happening everywhere, not just Bradford, Leeds as well. Has a recent manager in domicillary care i can verify that people do not get paid between jobs. It could take 20 minutes between each call depending on traffic and there is no pay for it. also if you get held up at a call you can be late for the next one. It is heart breaking and is very difficult for carers that genuinly care about their service users. Also the amount the councils pay private companys barely cover the costs, once you have paid for wages, training, administration etc tracy p
  • Score: 1

8:59pm Mon 31 Mar 14

Ratters Rat says...

If many families knew the truth they would be horrified at the treatment elderly people received for the few good carers there are plenty that ain't up to the job . Medication was not always given from dosset boxers when we complained about this well we can't force them to take it know you can't be bothered to give them it either. Chemist should be able to report missed medication as they usually collect previous dosset boxs.
If we were visiting or your family is here I'm sure they will make you a sandwich and drink.
Food was an issue they would throw food out saying it was out of date even bread from the freezer had to have a label saying it had been frozen to stop this happening.
Shopping they would go to the nearest corner shop they had to write their own shopping list and when the food arrived they had to put it away themselves.
Cleaning was a joke they would was a few pots up and make your bed if you were lucky as for changing the bed clothes family had to do it.
In the end my family member was so fed up of paying for a poor quality service she employed myself at less than half the cost
If many families knew the truth they would be horrified at the treatment elderly people received for the few good carers there are plenty that ain't up to the job . Medication was not always given from dosset boxers when we complained about this well we can't force them to take it know you can't be bothered to give them it either. Chemist should be able to report missed medication as they usually collect previous dosset boxs. If we were visiting or your family is here I'm sure they will make you a sandwich and drink. Food was an issue they would throw food out saying it was out of date even bread from the freezer had to have a label saying it had been frozen to stop this happening. Shopping they would go to the nearest corner shop they had to write their own shopping list and when the food arrived they had to put it away themselves. Cleaning was a joke they would was a few pots up and make your bed if you were lucky as for changing the bed clothes family had to do it. In the end my family member was so fed up of paying for a poor quality service she employed myself at less than half the cost Ratters Rat
  • Score: -1

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