A Hackney charity supporting unpaid carers and vulnerable people in the borough and the City of London has questioned a recent Town Hall decision to bring the majority of support services for their users inhouse.
While some services associated with prevention, early intervention and outreach will still be delivered by external providers, the council’s existing social workers will now be undertaking the assessments and reviews of carers designed to identify what support they need.
The Town Hall hopes the new model will help fix problems with its current voluntary and community sector partnership scheme, ‘Carers Are The Bedrock’ – however, according to City and Hackney Carers Centre (CHCC), recent feedback from carers in using the scheme has been extremely positive.
Jonathan Passman, acting chair of CHCC, said: “CHCC is the lead organisation in the Carers are the Bedrock partnership, and we and other voluntary sector partners have been carrying out carers assessments on contract with Hackney Council.
“Our feedback over the first two months of this year was that 65 carers out of 76 surveyed agreed that after contact with Carers are the Bedrock, they felt better able to resolve their issue, and 70 out of 76 felt better able to continue in their caring role.
“The chief complaint that carers have expressed to us is that once their needs have been assessed, Hackney Council takes far too long to provide the resulting benefit. I do not see how that part of the process is going to improve by adding to the workload of already hard pressed social workers.”
In a consultation carried out at the end of last year, carers had a number of issues with services within the borough, including a lack of clarity over what was on offer, inconsistent and poor quality assessments, and poor communication, with too many organisations involved in the process.
Carers are the Bedrock sought to enable carers to choose who assessed them, but according to the consultation it delivered a “fragmentation of approach and experience”.
In feedback given from the consultation, carers asked for proactive outreach and support, rather than having to initiate the process themselves, as well as “high quality and consistent” assessments.
The Town Hall have since said that the positive feedback received by CHCC has been as a result of a “range of measures” put in place by the council to support its staff.
A Hackney Council spokesperson said: “The council is absolutely committed to ensuring there is an excellent service in place for adult carers, so they receive the right help and support at the right time.
“Unfortunately carers have previously experienced delays due to the quality of assessments the council has received with insufficient and/or incorrect information.
“This has led to unavoidable delays in making decisions for carers to ensure they receive the right outcomes. The council must ensure that carers’ assessments are of a good quality, to fulfil its statutory duties under the Care Act 2014.
“The council has put a range of measures in place including additional staff to support CHCC by quality checking assessments and providing training for CHCC staff undertaking assessments. This has significantly reduced the waiting times for carers and improved quality. However this is not a sustainable approach for the long-term.
“We are very pleased to hear this most recent feedback from the CHCC which is starting to make a difference for carers. This has been taken into consideration, hence the decision to outsource a large element of the service to organisations like the CHCC.”