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‘I think it’s amazing how committed care staff are, who we don’t deserve to have’ - pay issues taking toll on Norfolk carer service

PUBLISHED: 07:00 23 October 2012 | UPDATED: 10:40 25 October 2012

Pay concerns are leading to around 200 home carers used by a council to look after vulnerable people to leave their jobs each year.

Norfolk County Council spends £34m a year on using 25 main agencies to provide care to around 5,800 older and disabled people in their homes.

But people who use the service have raised concerns about the quality and continuity of the care they receive, due to staff leaving on a regular basis.

A report, compiled by county councillors, praises the 1,000-plus workers as “very committed and dedicated people”, but found 19pc complete their formal training but do not stay on. It added there were “real differences” in how staff were paid, with the situation varying depending on which contractor employed them.

Some care staff have their uniforms paid for, while others do not.

The authority is now recommending that companies competing for six home care deals, which are up for offer, work out how much it will cost to ensure staff are paid for mileage costs, travel time, provision of uniforms, Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) checks and training.

It is hoped that if these recommendations are implemented, more staff can be retained.

The report noted: “Turnover of around 19pc per annum clearly affects the quality of care offered to service users particularly in relation to consistency and continuity and has a cost to home care providers. Consistency, continuity and timeliness were the biggest issues raised by service users.”

Home care agencies are asked to provide up to 12 weeks of training for new staff, including an induction and job shadowing, by the Care Quality Commission. Some agencies choose to do more than this.

Phil Wells, Age UK Norwich chief executive, said: “It’s certainly an issue that comes back to the low status given to the job. There’s no way of resolving that until it becomes a high-status occupation, which then attracts people. I think it’s amazing how committed care staff are, who we don’t deserve to have as we don’t pay them anything like a decent wage.

“It’s very difficult for people to stick with the job when times are harder than they have been.”

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