Rising pressure on domiciliary care in the Vale of Glamorgan is a “cause for concern” according to council bosses.
The number of people receiving care at home in the Vale has risen by more than 20 per cent over the past two years.
About six times as many people are currently being processed or waiting for domiciliary care in the Vale, compared to before the coronavirus pandemic.
Lance Carver, director of social services, said Vale of Glamorgan council was having “real difficulties” meeting the demand of people needing care at home. He explained the issue to the healthy living and social care scrutiny committee on Tuesday, September 14.
During the scrutiny meeting, he said: “We are experiencing real difficulties in providing domiciliary care. Not for people who have packages already, that’s all happening as planned. We’re actually having difficulties finding new care packages for people we’re assessing now.
“We have a prioritisation process in place. We have about 60 people who we’re either processing for care or are waiting for care. In usual times those figures would have been only just about 10 or thereabouts. So to have it in this magnitude is a cause for concern.
“In 2019, we were supporting 952 people, with 15,800 care hours per week. That’s now 1,095 people with 19,400 care hours. That’s a 22 per cent increase in two years, which is a significant amount of additional domiciliary care capacity that we’re commissioning from the private sector.
“Whenever we have brought cost pressures in our financial reports, you will have seen the budget line that has always been challenged the most and is experiencing the most pressure has been domiciliary care. That’s because of that growth. The difficulty we have at the moment is that the market can’t keep up with the demand that we have.”
He added the demand for residential care homes has been decreasing, and care homes in the Vale have a high number of empty beds. One councillor on the scrutiny committee suggested this could be due to people becoming “afraid” of care homes due to Covid-19.
Cllr Neil Thomas said perhaps some people who would have gone into residential care “are afraid to because of reports of some homes having a high incidence of mortality due to Covid”.
He added: “A lot of people choose to retire to areas like the Vale, but of course this has the consequence of putting pressure on our ability to provide for them.
“I imagine some people are actually afraid of residential care, due to some of the high profile news items, which might reflect the reason we’re having more people looking for domiciliary care.”
Another issue is understaffing. Mr Carver said the council found it hard to hire staff, and is lobbying care companies to put more resources from residential care homes into domiciliary care. He added the council had done an “incredible job” in meeting rising demand.
He said: “If we look at how much it has expanded over the years, I think we have done an incredible job of actually being able to meet that increased demand. We have been very clear with our care sector colleagues, those actually providing the care, what it is we need.
“We’ve been sharing with them for some time that we don’t feel there is a demand for standard older people’s residential care currently. We have repeatedly asked about an expansion into domiciliary care.
“But it’s very difficult for us to find staff. That’s not unique to social care, there are all sorts of transport difficulties, farming and so on. There is a real shortage of people to do the jobs we want them to do.”