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Social care in UK must embrace technology to pay carers properly and improve care quality

Curamcare, the UK-wide health-tech platform, says the government’s plans to improve social care, if it is to succeed, must embrace technology that is already available and proven.

The government’s taxes hikes to improve social care are welcome, but more money, on its own, won’t solve the problem.  The way care is delivered must be reformed.

Today, local authorities pay carers around £17 an hour for care in the home (domiciliary care).  But only half of this reaches the carer, with the rest swallowed by agency administrative costs.   This means carers end up with £8-£9.50 an hour – the level of the minimum wage.  This leads to a shortage of carers and very high staff turnover.  The moment other jobs are available paying above the minimum wage, the carer leaves the industry.

The result is that many carers are inadequately trained.  Availability and quality of care is low.  Costs increase elsewhere, because if a patient is ready to be discharged from hospital (£800 a night) to be cared for at home (£100 a night) but no carer is found, they cannot be discharged from hospital.  Anyone suffering with dementia or autism needs to see a familiar face.  With 35% staff turnover that is unlikely.

If the government’s extra cash is not to be wasted, care funding has to be better spent. Every day in Britain 5,200 new people need care. That means the bill for social care this year – £40bn – is anyway set to increase by £1bn every year, with or without higher taxes.

Much can be done by embracing technology that is already proven.  Thus far technology has barely made any inroads into care in the home.

Tailor-made app-based matching and recruitment platforms such as ours can now attract, interview, authenticate, train and administrate carers, and verify those who are seeking care.  These systems connect families with suitable carers.  As a result 85% of the hourly cost reaches the carer, who is then paid at least 150% of the minimum wage.

Better paid carers, who can accept offers of work as they wish, provide better quality care, and are likely to continue training and stay in the industry. Continuity improves and the cost to the family or local authority paying for care this way is 10% lower.

Jane Williams, Director and Head of Client Services at Curamcare, said:

“The government’s tax hike plans suggest the solution to the care crisis is all about money.  It is not.  Reform is overdue.  Technology has to be a big part of the solution so that we have a chance of satisfying the ever-increasing care demands from our ageing population. 

“Creating a proper tailor-made online market for carers lets the best people shine and by solving low pay for carers, leads to a long-term career, not a short-term job.  Suddenly the retired nurse who is just the sort of carer you may want for your elderly relative suffering with dementia, is available after all, and is likely to stay.

“It is no wonder the government delayed its care reform plans for so long.  The figures are vast and the risk of throwing good money after bad is high.  But as we all scabble for more money to fund care, technology can help professionalise the industry and ensure that extra money raised isn’t wasted.”

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