Under-fire Norfolk care company turns to smartphones to stop missed appointments

Sue Whitaker, cabinet member for adult social services at Norfolk County Council.

Sue Whitaker, cabinet member for adult social services at Norfolk County Council. - Credit: Archant © 2007

An under-fire social care provider criticised for missed and late appointments says giving all its staff smartphones will help tackle problems which have blighted the service.

Care UK was thrust into the spotlight in the summer after it emerged Norfolk County Council had received about 100 complaints and was told the service had to improve.

A leading councillor said the company, which was handed a £4.2m, three-year contract to provide care to 300 elderly and vulnerable people in the Broadland area, was improving, but warned 'we are not out of the woods yet'.

But the company has said introducing smartphones for its 200 workers, will help nip problems in the bud.

Libby Eastley, a director with Care UK's Community Services, said: 'The smartphones will improve punctuality and communication for service users because, via the GPS, the office will be able to see where people are and what progress they are making with their rota.

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'If a care worker encounters any difficulties it enables us to identify a team member who is nearer and could make the visit instead.

'Team members will be able to let the office know of any hold-ups immediately, such as a broken down car or needing to stay with a service user who is unwell and this too will reduce late calls.'

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Sue Whitaker, cabinet member for adult social services at Norfolk County Council, said: 'Things have stabilised.

'They are operating at about 75pc capacity.

'It is better than it was, but we are not out of the woods yet.

'Things are heading in the right direction, but it's not perfect.

'We have had a couple of people who lost confidence so much we have swapped their providers.

'But I am cautiously optimistic it will come right in the end. There has been a lot of time, effort and heartache by our staff to get this right.'

Care UK had blamed the problems on a number of employees from Extra Hands, the previous care provider, failing to transfer to Care UK when they had been expected to do so.

They also said there had been a higher than normal level of summer annual leave not having been agreed with Care UK prior to the transfer.

What's your experience of Care UK? Call Dan Grimmer on 01603 772375 or email dan.grimmer@archant.co.uk

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