Vulnerable people face Christmas without care as firm withdraws contracts
PUBLISHED: 15:26 20 December 2019 | UPDATED: 15:26 20 December 2019
Jamie Honeywood Archant Norwich Norfolk
Five people are facing Christmas without the care they desperately need because a troubled home care provider is withdrawing from its contracts.
Mulbarton-based Allicare is stopping its home care packages for 10 people around Christmas Eve and owner, Jon Herbert, said they were looking at handing back a "significant number" of other packages.
Mr Herbert said Allicare was withdrawing from the contracts because Norfolk County Council (NCC) was not giving it any more care packages, and they had to "stabilize rounds".
He said: "The effect of that decision to restrict new business is to strangle the business.
"We have asked NCC to have new clients to fill gaps so that rounds become sustainable. So far they have not despite revisiting us."
The council has found new care providers for the 10 people affected. Five of these will take effect straight after Allicare pulls out but the other five will face a gap before their in-home care can resume.
Clare May, the daughter of Richard May, who is facing a two-week gap in his at-home care, has slammed the handling of the situation.
Miss May said: "It's absolutely disgusting. My concern is that vulnerable people are being led to believe that they have no alternative than to go into residential care, and that's simply not good enough.
"If these people want to live in their own homes they have to be supported in doing so.
"The fact that [Allicare] have chosen to withdraw on Christmas Eve is by no means an accident. They have done it to have the greatest impact.
"They are letting down the very people they are supposed to be servicing."
Mr May, 75, is a retired Merchant Navy captain and cannot leave his bed or wheelchair at home in Sidestrand due to a rare brain disorder, progressive supranuclear palsy.
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An NCC spokesperson said they were "very concerned" about the situation the residents had been put in.
The spokesman said: "We have been working for some months with Allicare on quality improvement. We have already secured new care arrangements for the majority of those affected.
"We are working with Mr May and the remainder, as well as their families, to ensure that all of them have the care they need over the holidays and the security of permanent arrangements in the new year."
The Care Quality Commission (CQC) put Allicare into special measures after an inspection in July led to an 'inadequate' rating.
Inspectors slammed the agency as unsafe, ineffective, and poorly-led.
Mr Herbert said he was "shocked" and "disappointed" by the assessment and said they had a lack of feedback from the council after they did their own mock inspection in spring 2018.
He said: "Meanwhile they continued to give us large tranches of business when other agencies failed.
"We were criticised by CQC for having too many clients - 160. They didn't ask us and we had nearer a 100.
"However in response to CQC we have given quite a few clients back."
Mr Herbert said despite the inadequate CQC rating, the council continued to place more than 80 clients with them.
He said: "We have handed back about 8-10 packages of care giving NCC 28 days notice to find another provider. They have been ending on various dates through December including the 24th and 27th.
"Several of these, NCC have been unable to find alternative providers as they have contacted us. They will not have care over Christmas."
In October Mr Herbert claimed the agency, which was previously rated good across the board at its last inspection in 2016, hit a rocky patch after being overloaded with new care packages by the county council and receiving "a stream of complaints".