Home care providers fear insolvency without urgent Government intervention

Home care providers will struggle to remain solvent without urgent Government support during the “unprecedented” coronavirus emergency, a professional body has warned.

The United Kingdom Homecare Association, which represents more than 2,000 care providers, said it is concerned about members’ ability to pay staff who are sick or self-isolating.

The body expects providers will have to train more staff as some of the existing workforce become unable to work, while the number of people requiring care is expected to rise.

It also said providers need more protective gear for staff who care for people in their own homes.

Colin Angel, UKHCA policy director, said: “We are desperately worried about the ability of care providers to pay care workers who are sick or self-isolating, whilst also remaining solvent during an unprecedented emergency.

“Councils and the NHS only pay for care delivered. They will not pay for care workers who are prevented from working.

“People who buy their own home care will not be able to bear the additional cost of staff absence.

“The home care sector needs urgent financial support from national and local government to look after our essential workforce, maintain cash flow and help keep people out of hospital.”

The Government has announced a £5 billion Covid-19 response fund to help the NHS treat patients and maintain staffing levels, help local authorities support social care services and ensure other public services are protected.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak also pledged Government-backed loans worth £330 billion to help businesses through the coronavirus crisis.

Local authorities pay home care providers for each hour of care provided at the end of each month, the UKHCA said.

Its members come from the independent, voluntary, not-for-profit and statutory sectors.

The body is calling for the money to be paid upfront based on the average amount of care provided in previous months.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “No wholesaler has been asked to prioritise the NHS over the care sector and every care provider will start receiving face masks from the pandemic flu stock from today (Wednesday).

“We are working rapidly with wholesalers to ensure a longer-term supply of all personal protective equipment, including gloves, aprons, face masks and hand sanitiser.”

Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Care organisations can’t simply scale back their work if their staff are off ill or in isolation. Demand on their services will increase as a result of the virus.

“Most not-for-profit providers have limited cash reserves because they focus spending on vital care work. Hiring extra staff will mean they quickly run out of money.

“It’s crucial government funding is made available to avoid care providers collapsing, leaving the elderly and the vulnerable with no support from the care workers on which they rely.”

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