A Mansfield man says he is fearful about the quality of home care he will receive following a re-tendering of contracts by Nottinghamshire County Council.
Moves to significantly reduce the council’s 30 independent home care providers were approved by Nottinghamshire County Council’s Adult Social Care and Health Committee earlier this year.
The changes mean that only large home care companies with an annual turnover of between £4.5m and £8 m will be able to bid for the new contracts causing the loss of hundreds of jobs.
Council chiefs say they have been required by law to re-tender their home care contracts and the successful providers will be confirmed in the New Year.
But Lee Flowers, of Leeming Lane North, has slammed the changes, claiming it will dramatically hit the quality of care on offer and many service users do not even realise the changes are coming.
Mr Flowers, who is a paraplegic and has been with his home care provider for 13 years, said: “I feel a lot of people will be affected by these changes and won’t be aware until it is too late.
“There hasn’t been enough consultation to make clear to service users what the county council is planning to do.
“I am going to have to swap over to direct payments because that is the only way I can keep the flexibility and care I want but I understand there is already a waiting list.
“I am wholly reliant on the care service I receive, I have no family who can help me so I really rely on them.
“With one major company coming in to take over I feel there won’t be enough time to ensure continuity, there will be a lapse in care quality and there will be no choice for service users like me.
“I don’t want to change service providers but I am being forced to, the company know me and the carers know me, I will lose that continuity.
“If I lose all that, the communication and quality of my care won’t be as good.”
Mr Flowers is also concerned that vulnerable service users, including the elderly, will not understand the changes or be caused great distress because many of them are living with dementia and rely on continuity of the same carer.
He said: “Even though I am capable of making my own decisions and choosing what I want, other people won’t be in that position, it will be left down to the families who may not be aware of the choices.”
The changes will see one home care service provider covering large geographical areas as oppose to multiple independent home care providers operating across Mansfield and Ashfield.
Coun Muriel Weisz, chairman of the county council’s Adult Social Care and Health Committee, said the changes will mean a better flexibility of care for users.
She said: “I want to reassure service users that the overall aim of the home care changes is to provide an improved service which meets their needs.
“The changes will result in a wider range of home-based services in the county, including quicker response times and planned night time care.
“There are currently 30 different providers and there are gaps in certain areas of the county where it is difficult to deliver home care support that people need.
“We understand that it is important for people to have consistent and reliable services and where possible to have the same care staff.
“It is important to note that care workers will be able to choose to transfer to the successful agencies if required, so service users may not even see a change in their own carer and if there is a change we will work with them during this process.”
As stated by Coun Weisz service users will have the opportunity to transfer their carers over to the successful take-over company but Chad has received reports from sources that many home care staff will not want to be transferred because the companies they work for have private service users to whom they feel a loyalty to.
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