Controversial care company keeps Norwich contract

A private home help company has clung on to its controversial contract in Norwich after the public voted in its favour. Norfolk County Council wrote to 525 people in the city who receive help from Careforce to ask if they wanted to switch to another service.

The letters were sent out after the county council branded its standard of care as “unacceptable”. The company hit the headlines earlier this year after problems with its contract to provide care to pensioners in the city meant elderly people had been left at home alone, unfed and unwashed.

However, just 66 people said they did not wish to continue with Careforce and now an alternative provider is being found for them.

Alan Long, chief executive of Careforce, said it proved the company has made improvements.

“We admit there were some problems in the past but we have worked very hard to solve this and make major improvements,” he said. “And the fact that such a low number responded unfavourably to us shows how far we have come.

“We are not complacent about this however. We hold out hands up to what has happened in the past and we will continue to work hard to deliver excellent care to elderly people in the city.”

The transfer of care provision by the county council to the Stevenage-based firm sparked dozens of complaints in February and saw elderly people going without visits.

Bosses at Careforce said the problems were caused because lower than anticipated numbers of staff transferred over from the previous provider, staff decided not to transfer at the last minute and there were difficulties with IT and phonelines.

Norfolk County Council commissioned a survey which showed almost 62pc of respondents experienced problems and it intended to stick with the contract but wanted to ask people in the city their views. If a greater number had wanted to switch from Careforce it would have resulted in the contract being terminated.

Councillor Brian Long, deputy cabinet member for Adult Social Services at Norfolk County Council, said: “We have been monitoring the service provided by Careforce closely and I am pleased to be able to say that their performance continues to improve.”