Social services hit back after home care anger

SOCIAL services chiefs have hit back at criticism of home care during the arctic conditions. Earlier Neath Port Talbot Council’s deputy leader Peter Rees praised care workers for keeping services running despite the weather.

But his remarks have led to a complaint that half of all calls were cancelled in the last few days — and a claim that the authority was failing in its obligations to the elderly.

Mr Rees, who is also Neath South councillor, said he had been impressed by the efforts made to keep care services running.

“I would like to thank all those staff who kept the residential homes operational and all those people who undertook duties over and above those expected,” said Mr Rees. “I would also pay tribute to people who used their four-wheel drive vehicles to help get people to work in the appalling conditions.

“It is in these circumstances that people pull together and ensure the most vulnerable people are catered for.”

But one relative, who is not being named, has since contacted the Post to claim that half of all home care calls were cancelled during a four-day period.

He said clients had to spend up to 15 hours in bed after being put to bed early because of the weather.

“Almost no extra resources have been made available to community carers to allow them to fulfil their calls,” he said. “Carers were asked to walk to calls during the daytime. A 4×4 vehicle was only available during hours of darkness and not at all on Monday evening in the Skewen area.”

He said the council had profited from the bad weather, adding: “Carers are only paid for hours they work so the wage bill is reduced. Clients are asked for their full weekly charge but don’t get the calls.

“This is further confirmation that Neath Port Talbot Council continues to fail in its obligations to the elderly.”

Head of community care and housing services Robert Rees said: “Community Care staff have been working tirelessly over the past few days to provide essential services under extremely difficult circumstances.

“In order to reach as many service users as possible, it has sometimes been necessary to vary from the usual call and call times.

“Please be assured that we will continue to do our best to provide care to vulnerable people in Neath Port Talbot.”