Positive experience of private sector Home Care Service

I am, as regular readers of this blog will now, a huge advocate for public services. It’s my belief that the public and voluntary sectors have intrinsic values that translate to delivering the best care and support that the workers are able to provide.

However, our political climate, and a proportion of our public discourse, holds that these sectors in comparison with the private sector are bloated, poorly managed, and wasteful of resources. This is the entire crux of many of this Government’s reforms. As you know, I have been discussing for some time how I believe that the pursuit of profit has no place in healthcare, as it blinds us to the commitment many of us feel to provide the very best service we can with the resources we have The public sector simultaneously provides many of us (particularly the low paid, women, and part time workers) with better pensions and conditions than most private sector posts. I would say that these roles are not as well paid as the private sector, but I know that many in the private sector (including my partner) are now facing a fourth tax year with no pay rise; many have lost their jobs entirely.

I have been receiving Home Care to address my needs for assistance with personal care (washing and dressing) since Autumn 2010. I was assessed at the time to need 1 hour of daily help. During the worker’s hour with me, they were able to help me with domestic tasks which I was not able to complete (whilst I was in the shower). Home Carers are great, as a rule, I’m sure I’m no picnic to look after. Here’s a short video explaining how they work, and what they do.

Last week, my Social Worker came round to “review” my needs (this usually means try to reduce the service provided). I’ve really struggled with the relationship with this worker. She has consistently misrepresented my needs, advocated I give up work, offered very little in the way of support and been excrutiatingly slow in addressing agreed actions from our interminable meetings. So it was no surprise to find that, the week before her visit, I was phoned up by a new provider of Home Care. Apparently, my local Council was immediately outsourcing it’s entire Adult Social Care Service, as part of the effort to meet the budgetry restrictions they face. Oh, and they said it will be good for personalisation, too.

I’ve blogged before about how I have no faith that my Social Worker understands the principles of personalisation, and does not seem keen to partner me in decisions made about my Social Care. I have felt like I had to fight with her for each bit of help I was able to arrange. So it was no surprise to find that she hadn’t informed me of this process (nor had she informed my lovely Carers, who were fond of me and the family in return). I had been informed in September that the services were to be outsourced, but had never been given a timeframe.

I received a phone call from the new provider, who seemed like a pleasant woman, and who was able to offer some explanation for what was happening. I’m wary of the private sector in public services. I’m firmly of the belief that hospital acquired infections would never have become such an issue if we hadn’t contracted out cleaning from our NHS hospitals, for instance. But, mindful that I had no choice between the private providers in the marketplace, and no choice to stay with Adult Social Care, I arranged for the manager of the new service to come out and see me.

When she came out, I have to say I was impressed. Her documentation seemed so much clearer and fit for purpose than the documents the Home Care ladies had previously had, which they largely ignored because they were so cumbersome. She seemed to “get” my problems really quickly- she was obviously bright, but she was a good listener and actually delivered the Home Care herself for a couple of days to better understand my needs.

After a few days, I asked her how she found the business. She admitted they were picking up a lot of work as the council outsourced, she was very busy. I said that I found her to be  sensible, and I liked the way she had structured her business, her documentation and her company values. I asked her why more of the nice Home Care Ladies hadn’t left their employment and joined her team?

She told me that she couldn’t afford to pay her workers the equivalent pay and conditions that they had under the Council.

I thought that was refreshingly honest, after all, where do all these “austerity” savings come from, if not the wages and incomes of low paid, part time, female workers? 🙂

I prepared myself to engage with a service that employed women earning very little. I expected them to be unmotivated, overworked, and resentful.

I’m happy to report that the workers I have encountered have been exceptionally professional.

They actually draw up a timetable of visits, and keep to a decent time around that agreed. Because they understood my wish to develop a working day routine as close to normal as possible, I have been able to negotiate my visit from 11am-12pm (under Adult Social Care) to times between 8.15am to 10am, depending on their workloads. This, in itself, makes a huge difference to me. Previously, I haven’t been able to make any plans until afternoon, as I would not be dressed until midday. Now, I can plan to work at home, or to go out when able, and meet people from (sometimes) as early as 10am.

They always arrie dressed in their smart uniforms, and they couldn’t be more helpful. So far, I have actually let them do things I had stopped allowing the Adult Social Care workers to do (like drying feet, putting socks on) because they were unable to do it without causing me serious pain (jiggling my feet around jiggles my wonky pelvis). They seem to just take a bit longer over these tasks. They have also taken shoes off on request, been polite to the other family members, and not spouted disablist hate-speech in the house. All positives.

One of them even developed the same difficulties as me during a pregnancy 14 years ago. She ended up off work for 2 years, and still has occasional twinges, but she was able to give me hope for Recovery. She also understood exactly which movements were painful, and why.

One difference I have noticed, is that unlike Adult Social Care, they are not constantly phoned by their management when they are in my home. I can’t understand why the level of micromanagement they were subjected to is efficient use of anyone’s time, but part of it stemmed from the fact they were not given rotas before the morning of the jobs. This new provider not only issues rotas early, but they give me a copy of my own personal timetable. This is great, because it lists the people who are coming each day rather than leave it to be a surprise. And it committs them to a time for the visit, in a transparent way. They also have travel time built into their timetables, which I know Adult Social Care really don’t take account of.

My partner asked me this morning what I thought of the new Home Care?

They’re great, I replied, I’m wondering why I held out against having them in for so long, now.

My politics told me I would prefer the public sector provider. My experience tells me the opposite. This is confusing for me, and it’s going to take time to work out what it all means.

Leave a comment


  1. I am pleased that you are finally having a more positive experience Claire, long may it continue… well for as long as you need it to that is!

  2. I am pleased that you are finally having a more positive experience Claire, long may it continue… well for as long as you need it to that is!


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