Hands off our home care – union warns

COUNCIL plans to privatise parts of home care services in Kirklees could put vulnerable people at risk, a union has said..

Kirklees Council provides care and support for people with both complex and routine care needs, with the latter mainly provided by outside agencies.

The council is hoping to increase the outsourcing of the more routine care service to local agencies to help keep costs down.

Kirklees Unison is concerned that further privatisation could mean less choice in care for at risk people.

Lead steward for home care Andrea Knowles said: “We think that home care is a vital service for the community and once it goes, it goes for good.

“We have concerns over the training carers in private companies receive. They are less reliable, have different terms and conditions, as well as hours of work. The commitment to service is not the same.

“The users have not been given a choice.”

Complex care – such as dealing with people with mobility issues – would be retained, while routine care would be outsourced to private firms.

Ms Knowles added: “The council’s home care staff are highly trained in movement techniques for those receiving care. The training is more thorough than those provided by private agencies.

“We want to organise a public meeting to get the public behind us.

“This is not about Unison trying to fight for jobs but for a valuable and crucial public service.”

The council has said the plans, which have not been agreed yet, would rely on the ‘strong local economy’ of firms able to provide that care, while reducing cost to the authority.

A spokeswoman said: “If we do not get the best value for money we can in home care and similar services, we will have to cut services elsewhere.

“The council does, however, have special expertise in very complex home care, such as helping people to become more independent when they come out of hospital, giving end of life support and providing emergency response services.

“This accounts for about 15 per cent of our home care service and we are continuing to develop this within council teams. People receiving a long-term home care service will in fact be offered more choice.”

It has also ruled out the need for compulsory redundancies.

l What do you think? Have you had experiences of privatised home care or are you a home care worker? Let us know first hand by emailing ben.morgan@ywng.co.uk.