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Health Politics Rhondda Cynon Taf South Wales

Long-term home care services in RCT could be outsourced to independent providers

A VALLEYS council is considering outsourcing its remaining long-term home care services to independent providers.

Rhondda Cynon Taf Council’s cabinet will consider plans for how it delivers the domiciliary home care service in the future, including recommendations that it externally commissions all long-term home care from October 2024 with the aim of “securing the future resilience and sustainability of the service without reducing the level of care provided”.

The council said there are two approaches to providing domiciliary home care – reablement and intermediate care, due to continue to be provided by the council, and long-term home care.

The council’s Support@Home service delivers all reablement and intermediate care, but a much smaller proportion of long-term home care (about 10%) with most already commissioned from independent providers.

A report to be considered by cabinet at a meeting on Monday, October 23, proposes the council continues to deliver all reablement and intermediate care and, from October 2024, commissions all long-term home care from external home care providers, as part of a required re-tender process.

Councillor Gareth Caple, cabinet member for health and social care, said: “These officer proposals seek to respond to increasing demand for long-term home care, and address issues of capacity experienced by all providers.

“This revised approach aims to achieve a sustainable model that in no way reduces the availability of the service – rather, it would enable long-term commissioning arrangements to be improved, enhancing the experience of service users and home care workers.

“Through this new approach, the council would continue to support people to be as independent as possible by continuing to provide an in-house reablement and intermediate care service.

“It’s important to note that the council delivers just a small proportion of the long-term home care provision in Rhondda Cynon Taf, and the change being considered would see the remaining 10% transfer to external providers.

“Reablement and intermediate care services through the council’s Support@Home service would continue to be provided by the council.

“Through these plans, the council would ensure that any new commissioned service is delivered on the basis of geographical zones.

“This would improve the overall efficiency of the service, helping staff members who currently operate across wider geographical areas that require longer travel times between calls.

“The proposals would allow a more coordinated approach that reduces staff travel time – increasing the time spent providing care in people’s homes and having a positive impact on staff recruitment and retention.”

Under the proposals, all care packages would be kept while eligible staff employed by Support@Home to provide long-term home care would transfer to the new service provider, which would award a new contract under transfer of undertakings (protection of employment) arrangements.

The council said this ensures continuity of support for service users, and job security for staff with the terms and conditions of their current contracts protected, along with membership of the local government pension scheme

At the cabinet meeting, councillors could choose to agree the proposals and start the re-tendering process for the long-term home care service

Cabinet could also agree to enable the council’s director of social services to award the contract after the process is completed.

If agreed, the council said everyone receiving long-term home care will be told about the decisions and it added that initial discussions have taken place with the recognised trade unions on this matter and that, subject to any decision by cabinet, these discussions will continue.