Northumberland County Councillor Wendy Pattison, Cabinet Member for Caring for Adults

Multi-million-pound investment in home care pays off

Multi-million-pound investment in Northumberland’s home care sector has helped to end a recruitment and retention crisis in the aftermath of the Covid pandemic which was making it hard for the Council to arrange the care people needed.
An information report to Cabinet outlines the impact of four initiatives introduced since 2022 to address the recruitment and retention issues facing home care services nationally, regionally, and locally in Northumberland. 
Northumberland County Councillor Wendy Pattison, Cabinet Member for Caring for Adults, said: “Home care workers provide vital care and support to people in their own homes and we believe the skilled and responsible nature of their work should be recognised in their pay rates.
“Without home care workers it would not be possible for many ill, disabled, or older people to maintain their independence and dignity. 
“After having previously been in a difficult situation where we were struggling to source care for people, I am delighted to see that we now seem to be back to normal.  In recent months, we’ve almost always been able to arrange home care without any problems.

“As things now stand, people in our county can be reassured that what was the single most serious reason for concern about adult social care services in Northumberland has been resolved.

“We can’t be complacent however and we are continuing to provide extra funding to support decent pay for home care workers, and to support home care agencies to offer attractive working conditions.”

In Northumberland, as elsewhere, most care services for adults are delivered by independent providers, with the council commissioning care services from those providers.  
Serious problems with workforce capacity in care services first became apparent in autumn 2021, following the end of Covid restrictions.
In January 2022 the Council’s Cabinet approved plans to make a substantial additional investment in home care and other care services, by offering providers funding to pay a rate equivalent to the Real Living Wage.  Later that year, the Council provided additional funding to home care providers to support an 80% increase in the typical mileage rates paid to care workers who drive to people’s homes in their own cars.
The Council offered further funding to bring forward an increase in home care workers’ pay during the winter of 2022/2023 and then funded a sustained further increase from July 2023. 
From January 2024, the Council introduced the Northumberland Guarantee which includes eight commitments to address issues that had previously been an obstacle to recruiting staff. 
These include offering all home care workers the option of a contract which gives them a reliable weekly income and a commitment that workers will be paid for time spent in training.  
The Council’s Adult Social Care Contracts and Commissioning team has also offered providers a variety of other kinds of support with recruitment and retention. These have included building links with job centres, enabling providers to promote their vacancies on the Council's social media and supporting participation in job fairs.

Officers will continue to work with home care providers to make sure that working in home care is a positive choice for people who want to help older and disabled people to remain independent.
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