Homecare shake-up is shocking, claim families and residents

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DISGRACEFUL, shocking and “a complete mess” – that’s how East Dunbartonshire Council employees and their clients have described the reorganised Homecare service which launched last week.

Staff in the department, who provide vital care services to elderly and vulnerable members of the community, have been given new contracts with longer working hours, different shift patterns and an overhauled list of clients to visit.

In recent weeks 35 of the workers have taken voluntary redundancy rather than accept the new conditions, which came into force last Monday.

Several of the employees that remain have previously contacted the Herald to hit out at the changes – predicting that it would mean that vulnerable people would be left to rely on strangers rather than the members of staff they had come to know and trust.

They now say their fears have come true, after a week where many were left without care of any sort.

One angry resident, whose elderly mother relies on Homecare services every day, told the Herald: “My mother has dementia and is diabetic. She has to eat at certain times of day and take medication, but she had nobody turn up on Monday or Tuesday mornings.

“She was just left to lie in bed. When somebody did come around on Tuesday she was out and the person just left a note saying she’d been and gone.

“It’s not the staff’s fault – most of them don’t even work for East Dunbartonshire Council and have been hired in from other agencies. They’ve been given a list of names and addresses and just told to do their best.

“At this rate somebody will end up being hospitalised or worse because of this neglect.

“There’s been absolutely no management. It’s shocking and East Dunbartonshire Council should be ashamed of the way they are treating the most vulnerable members of society.”

Another Herald reader revealed that in the Bield Sheltered Housing complex, in Kirkintilloch, 13 people didn’t receive their usual Homecare visit.

She added: “The council changes to home carers’ work rotas have left everything in a complete mess.

“Phone calls and complaints to the council’s Homecare department are not answered or dealt with satisfactorily.

“There are people with dementia and people attending day care, all left without any care from the council. One family I know are already going to the Care Inspectorate.”

Homecare staff echo the concerns, saying the transition to the new contracts has been badly mismanaged.

One member of staff said: “It’s just gone from bad to worse. The way we and our clients are being treated is disgraceful.

“It is chaos and lots of clients just aren’t being seen.

“I think the council have bitten off more than they can chew. I’ve no idea how they are going to sort it out.”

Freda McShane, the council’s acting head of social work, said: “We are aware there has been some disruption to care during this transitional phase.

“The service has put in place a number of contingency arrangements to address the concerns and staff have been responding to a number of calls from customers.

“We will continue to monitor this situation closely and any further concerns regarding care arrangements should be directed to the Homecare service on 0141 578 2101 and staff will seek to correct any issues and ensure services are delivered to meet the needs of our service users.”

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