It is pleasing to know that care companies are recruiting domiciliary care staff.
As expected, companies are requiring new staff to complete training and induction courses. It is concerning to learn that in some cases staff are not being paid for attendance at these courses.
One company is requiring new domiciliary care staff to fund their own attendance at a three-day course for which they receive no pay.
As the commissioner of the overwhelming majority of care in Powys, what is the Council’s attitude, and yours as portfolio-holder, to this practice? What steps will you take to require fairer employment practices from companies from which the Council commissions care?
Response by the Portfolio Holder:
Thank you for this question regarding fairer employment practices by external domiciliary care providers/agencies. The challenges in commissioning and providing sufficient high quality domiciliary care in Powys are well known and have been long standing. I am pleased that the question recognises the recruitment currently being undertaken as the Council has increased its commissioned domiciliary care hours by more than 1,000 hours per week over the past year (April 2020 = 9,617 hours of domiciliary care per week: July 2021 = 10,877 hours of domiciliary care per week) and is providing domiciliary care services to 755 individuals (increased from 629 in April 2020).
Work began in 2018 to develop a domiciliary care ‘plan on a page’ strategy which aimed to reduce demand, meet demand and increasing service capacity. A domiciliary care market position statement demonstrated the ongoing challenges and the increasing recruitment and retention issues. It was also recognised that the fees paid to care providers in Powys were among the lowest in Wales, with potential care staff being enticed to work in less demanding roles for more money and better terms and conditions. Officers have been working on implementing the plan on a page since its development and this has played a significant part in the increased capacity and provision. One aspect of the Council's approach has been to develop the Powys Pledge (briefing attached), which provides care agencies with financial incentives to improve both salaries and working conditions. An overview of the Powys Pledge can be seen in the attached briefing [page 6 of minute document].
One of the issues recognised by the Commissioning Service was that care staff were sometimes not paid for attendance on training courses. This was of concern to Cabinet, amongst the other issues identified and it is pleasing to report that this is being addressed through the Powys Pledge so that care agencies who wish to take advantage of the fee increase for 2022/23 will be required to ensure "Care workers to be paid for any reasonable amount of time spent training".