Investment and reform across Wigan’s homecare sector has boosted standards and the quality of care for residents.
Over the last two years Wigan Council has worked intensively with ethical homecare providers in the borough to develop an improved model of care at home.
Most of the 10 ethical providers are based locally and are now focusing on personalised care – shifting away from traditional time and task approach, with no 15 minute calls.
All providers are required to pay carers a minimum of national living wage independent of age, a mileage allowance, allow for travel time, extensive use of substantive contracts and invest in career development, as well as additional offers such as free flu jabs, bicycles, and specialist training programmes.
Homecare providers are also working to ensure that people are selected on values and behaviours which demonstrate kind and compassionate care.
Walking and cycling rotas have been established where people who know the area can work locally without needing access to a car.
There are now more opportunities for those who are cared for to have more social activities to reduce social isolation including glamorous gran pamper parties, race night, trips to the seaside and vintage tea dance.
Shauna Barton, aged 31 from Wigan, set up Care Choices North West four years ago with her mum. Shauna had been a carer herself since she was 20 years old and is now director of her company which employs 70 people.
Care Choices North West provides homecare to residents in supported living across Wigan Borough and has benefited from being part of the ethical homecare framework.
Shauna said: “Working in care is not just a job, it’s a career. Since I started my company with a small group of people we have all progressed to Care Coordinator, Team Leader, Quality Assurance and Care Manager.
“We recruit based on values. After a telephone interview we invite people in for a workshop where we match their values with our company values.
“We also make sure our staff who have an induction together also do their training together. We’ve seen that keeping people together can build friendships and it means staff enjoy coming to work.”
Shauna also described how the industry has changed, saying: “We will soon be paperless because we give our staff the right technology, mobile phones for example, so they can work efficiently and update care plans on the go or communicate with other carers.”
Being on the framework means Shauna can get support from other care providers, something which she says wouldn’t have happened five years ago.
She said: “Care providers used to be in direct competition with each other. But now thanks to the council we all work in partnership. We meet regularly and share training, policies and procedures.
“It means if we are short staffed we can call on other providers so residents aren’t affected.
“The other day our staff were having first aid training with another provider, free of charge, because our trainer was unwell. That would never have happened before.”
“We absolutely loved The Deal and the idea of giving people more than just care. We are delivering a great service and the council have done what they promised to do.
“To work in our industry you just need a passion to support other people and the drive to go for it.”
Councillor Keith Cunliffe, Wigan Council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said: “Homecare providers, in partnership with the council, have shown a real commitment to the role of compassionate and caring support.
“This is enabling people to live happy, healthy lives in their own homes for as long as possible.
“Wigan Council has an on-going long term commitment to have a sustainable homecare market here in the borough.
“The foundations have been built and we have seen early indicators of success not least through feedback from residents and the recognition from CQC.
“We are now ready for the next phase of reform where a more joined up offer of both health and social care is provided in people’s own homes.”
The council’s commitment to excellent quality care and support has been extended to wider community services with care homes in the borough recognised as achieving the third fastest improvement in quality nationally, with 100% of directly delivered services rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by CQC.
Cllr Cunliffe added: “If the quality of care and support dips or fails to meet the required standards, we work intensively with providers to make rapid improvements only withdrawing support when satisfied that the quality of service is good.
“This approach has also been fundamental in enabling Wigan to remain the best in the North West when supporting people to return home from hospital in a safe and timely way.”
If you are interested in a career in homecare and would like to discuss opportunities with Wigan’s ethical homecare providers contact the PMMD team or call 01942 489401.