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Bonkers Blog April 2014

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17 April (Part 2) - How Bexley’s cuts fall on the poor and the vulnerable

Bexley council’s adult care services are designed to be run as cheaply as possible with scant regard for employment law and the wellbeing of care workers. Last week the council took a further step towards cost cutting which at first glance looks like a reasonable plan. This is what it said…

Care staff employed to work with residents in their homes will soon be using ‘call logging’ via a freephone telephone number. The system will record and provide evidence of when carers arrive and leave and will automatically feed this information into an invoicing system for the Council.

The system allows adequate time for carers to greet people and settle in, so that the provision of care is not rushed.

“When the carer arrives they call the freephone number using the resident’s phone”, explained Cllr Chris Taylor, Bexley’s Cabinet Member for Adults’ Services. “There is no cost to the person receiving care, but the system protects them and their carer. It also helps to reduce needless bureaucracy, which is good news for everyone!”

Using the new technology provides the several safeguards and efficiencies -

· It will ensure that people do not get 'short changed' with their care. Residents will get their full time allocation, which ensures that tasks are not missed.
· Residents will only pay for the actual care they receive - and a record will be available in the event of a dispute.
· Instead of thousands of invoices from homecare providers being checked and processed by the Council each month, in future there will be just one from each provider.

The system will also provide a degree of safety for staff. If they do not ‘log out’ of a property, their office can be alerted. If they do not arrive at their next call, their office will know where they were last and at what time.

TaylorExcept for the automation the revised system is not really any different to what has been happening up until now. The client or other household occupant is still forced to get off their phone when the care worker arrives and departs or their pay may be affected. Some care workers contracted to Bexley council have been giving their views on the new regime…

Staff from one agency at least have been advised that if they stay longer than the time allocated they still won’t get paid whatever the automated logs may say. It is hard to walk out on a patient at precisely the allotted time just because a computer says they should.

It is not particularly rare for a carer to call on the help of paramedics, especially when they arrive at the home of a sick person living alone and it is then essential for the care worker to stay for as long as the situation demands. Agency staff have said they are no longer going to be paid for this extra time although they usually were in the past. One told me there was a legal requirement to stay with a client if paramedics have been called. Whatever the law says there is a moral obligation to do so but Bexley council cabinet member Chris Taylor is not concerned with that. Their £40 million black hole has to be plugged somehow and in an election year it is the sick that have to suffer.

Forewarning of the changed arrangements was given by a Welling reader in February.



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