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Wanted: a Knit-yourself-a-Carer kit
The pressure to pick up new referrals of Homecare packages this week has been exceptionally great.
The demand for our service at this time of year is completely unprecedented and I have never had so many referrals in October as I have had this year.
I am not suggesting that pressure is not being felt in other areas. We are all aware of how busy A&E wards are and that hospitals cannot cope with the demand, which is frequently in the headlines. But the ripple effect is being felt throughout other community services that are similarly struggling to cope.
According to official NHS figures the number of district nurses working in England decreased by 18%. Other charity based community resources have been affected financially which has destabilised their ability to provide a free or partially funded service.
But this adds further pressure on to Homecare providers.
I personally am so overwhelmed by the demand that I don’t have any hope of being prepared. I have a number of staff due to start but you cannot rely on new starters to pick cases up. For one- you never know how long they will last in the service, particularly those staff who are brand new to the industry.
As quickly as we are recruiting we just cannot do it fast enough. The pressure from the local authority is high. What does not help is social workers (not all- but the odd few) asking why we can’t offer a new case when “it’s in your contract”. Yes just give me a few minutes and I’ll knit myself a new carer....
The timescales in which we are supposed to offer new referrals is very tight and I completely understand why this should be.
However most Homecare providers want to provide a good quality service from day one so getting it right is critical. Some service users may be new to Homecare and be terrified of who and what they may get (you can thank the national press for that). You need to have the service spot on from the beginning. You want to make a good impression. You want to ensure there is continuity to the service. But to do this you need a bit of time.
I always believe that you should not offer to provide a service for a new case in which you cannot safely or responsibly cover that service across seven days. And yet the pressure is still increasing. I best get those knitting needles out.