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NEW contracts have been awarded to domiciliary care companies in Swansea, but the majority of people who need their help won’t see a change.

Council chiefs said a quarter of those who receive care at home, for things like washing and dressing, will have a new provider when the system is phased in from October. This equates to about 275 people.

The new contracts are more expensive than the current ones, but quality was a more important criteria than price.

The aim is that there are enough domiciliary carers to cover the county, particularly rural areas which require longer travel times from house to house.

The council wants to help people live independently at home for as long as possible, partly because residential and nursing home costs are higher.

The new contracts don’t affect the council’s own homecare service – a smaller outfit which focuses on people with more complex cases, and reablement.

Introducing the new arrangements at a council scrutiny meeting, interim head of adult social services Deborah Reed said: “We might see these (external domiciliary) costs going up, but I would hope that nursing and residential costs will stay the same, or go down.”

The extra costs are expected to be £1.3m per year, just over 10% of the current domiciliary care bill.
But the council will, in certain circumstances, look at ways of reducing packages of care and witholding payment to providers, although no-one will receive less care as a direct result of the changes.

Individual plans will be written for all of the 275 people who move over to new providers, containing information including what matters most to them – and the changeover is to be closely monitored.

Scrutiny panel member Tony Beddow, who is not a councillor, asked how important staff turnover rate had been in the council’s decision-making process. He also wanted to know if the council had indicated to providers how much money they would pay their staff, how much would be management overheads, and how much profit.

Mrs Reed said: “We can’t prescribe that.”

But a new criteria in the tendering process was a community benefit requirement for things like training opportunities and targeting unemployed local people for jobs.

Councillor Mark Child, cabinet member for care, health and ageing well, said consistency of carers was important and companies that pay significantly less than others would struggle with this. He added: “I think customer feedback is key. If we get bad reports on a company, that’s something that we would follow up.”

The new contracts include one for respite at home, which a company called Hafal won.

Contracts will run for four years, with the option of an extension of up to four years.

Cllr Child said a couple of providers had already begun to help reduce the number of cases where people were stuck in hospital because there was no package of care in place for when they returned home. He said: “We have got significant ‘delayed transfers of care’ – we have been able to make a small difference to these figures.”

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