Not enough staff at care firm

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Exhausted carers toiled over long shifts and were not paid for travel time between home visits at an agency which failed to safely look after elderly and vulnerable people.

Appalling working conditions at Sevacare, which has a contract with Kirklees Council to provide home care for the elderly and disabled, have been exposed in an inspection.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has rated the organisation as “inadequate”, placed it in special measurers and threatened to have its licence removed if improvements were not made.

Inspectors found that vulnerable people were having home visits cut short because of short staffing at Sevacare - and workers were not paid for their travel time.

One staff member said: “I can work a 13 hour shift but only get paid for seven or eight hours because of all the travelling times between calls.”

Another had completed 29 home visits in a single day and 26 the next day.

The report said: “They told us they were exhausted and couldn’t remember the last day off they had had.”

Another was rostered from early morning to 8pm or 9pm for the next nine days.

The report said: “They had been allowed a 1.5 hour break which they told us was used to catch up due to the lack of travel time.”

The organisation was left shortstaffed when people were off sick or on holiday, the report said. A relative told the CQC: “They do not have enough staff as even the office girls have had to come out to do some caring when carers are off sick.”

One care worker who was covering extra call due to “high levels” of sickness, said: “I feel pressured to get everything done.”

The CQC found breaches of six Health and Social Care Act regulations at Sevacare during inspection visits on October 10-19. The service was rated as inadequate for being safe, responsive and well-led, and “requires improvement” for being caring and effective.

The report added: “We found serious issues with the allocation of care tasks that left people with late and shortened calls, staff had no time to carry out their duties effectively and there was a high risk of the likelihood of errors as staff were tired and under pressure to complete tasks in unrealistic timeframes.

“Staffing numbers were inadequate to meet the demands of the service and some staff were working particularly long shifts, with no allocated travel time between calls and in most cases, having to pick up shifts for colleagues who were off sick.”

Sevacare said in a statement: “It is worth noting that 88 per cent of clients interviewed rated the service as good or excellent, a point we hold in high regard in the delivery of personal care. We have agreed an action plan to address the points made and will continue to liaise with both the Council and CQC to ensure these are reflected in the revisit due shortly.”

A council spokeswoman added: “Sevacare have been a longstanding provider for the Council. We are reassured that the actions that have been, and continue to be taken will address the CQC concerns, and we continue to support and monitor progress.”