To consider the response of Cabinet to the recent report of the Home Care Study Group.
Cllr A McMullen, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, attended the meeting to present the Cabinet Response to the Home Care Study Group Report which had been agreed at the Cabinet meeting on 27 June 2022.
Cllr McMullen confirmed that all recommendations had been accepted by the Cabinet and would be taken forward.
Members noted the response to the recommendations and highlighted that the action plan does not include timescales for when actions will be complete. Cllr McMullen stated he would be happy to bring an update report back to the Sub-committee at a future date once timescales are confirmed. It was noted that some of the recommendations apply to contracts that cover several years and these changes cannot be implemented immediately, but will be incorporated as future contract arrangements are considered.
In relation to Recommendation 2 and the payment of the Real Living Wage, it was noted that the service has agreed to increase rates by a higher percentage from April 2022 to support providers in paying their staff the Real Living Wage of £9.90 per hour and to help in addressing staffing issues. However, it was noted that this was not an accreditation process linked to contract award or service delivery as any such accreditation process would be overly bureaucratic to implement. It was noted that it was too early to evaluate the impact this increase has had on recruitment and retention. However, the Council continues to monitor the quality of provision through a range of processes and, going forward, will be looking at rates of pay and evidence that payments are going to staff. The Council is unable to impose requirements around rates of pay or terms and conditions on providers.
Members asked about the number of packages currently on the brokerage list. It was noted that at the time of the report the number of packages was around 170 and this has come down to 126. This is due to the commissioning of additional services with extra care, a positive response from providers, and a review of the list to ensure those on the list remain in need of services.
There was some discussion about the impact of petrol costs and other cost of living factors on recruitment and retention of home care workers. It was noted that Covid grants which had been used towards additional costs such as fuel had been discontinued, but the Council continues to be in communication with providers and is monitoring the impact of the payment of the increased rate from April 2022.
Members asked about any contingency plans going forward if recruitment problems continue. It was noted that work was being taken forward at a regional level via ADASS (Association of Directors of Adult Social Services). It was also noted that a workforce strategy is being developed to ensure the pool of care staff is maintained and hopefully increased. Members requested an opportunity to be consulted on an early draft of this strategy.s
It was agreed that:
• the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care be asked to provide an update to the Sub-committee in 6 months setting out progress against actions agreed in the report;
• the Sub-committee be consulted on an early draft of the workforce strategy for social care.