Under fire Norfolk company to keep contract to care for vulnerable people

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 health and social care provider has been told it can continue to provide services for vulnerable people, after council bosses said they were satisfied it had improved.

Care UK has been in the spotlight after it emerged Norfolk County Council had received about a hundred complaints about the service.

The company was handed a £4.2m, three-year, contract to provide care to 300 elderly and vulnerable people in the Broadland area in July.

But, following the complaints, which included carers arriving early, up to three hours late, or not at all, Norfolk County Council told Care UK last month that it had four weeks to sort out its problems.

And the council has said Care UK, which has other Norfolk contracts which see it look after more than 700 people, will keep the Broadland contract.

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Sue Whitaker, cabinet member for adult social services at Norfolk County Council, said: 'The home care service provided by Care UK in the Broadland area has improved considerably over the last month.

'The company has worked hard to address the problems with the service, including drafting in extra members of staff, and we know from our close monitoring together with feedback from customers that the quality and reliability of the care people are receiving is significantly better than it was.

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'We have therefore agreed to continue with the contract on the clear expectation that these improvements are sustained and further ones are made.

'We need to be convinced that Care UK has not only got on top of the immediate problems but that it has the necessary support and systems in place to make the service more resilient and ensure standards are kept up in the long term.

'I'm cautiously reassured about the service but I'm not complacent. While most people who had concerns about the home care they received from Care UK in the Broadland area are much more satisfied with the service now we have identified a very small number of people who aren't happy still and we will be talking to them about other possible options to get this sorted.

'Our quality assurance team will keep monitoring the service very closely for the foreseeable future and we'll continue to review how things are progressing on a regular basis.'

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.

To tackle the problems, the company brought in extra care workers, more management support was put in place and rotas for staff were re-planned.

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