The smart money is on paying the professionals . . .

Blog Post 14 November 2017

Despite my attempts to stop my home being invaded by telephone salespeople, occasionally one gets through the net.

Inevitably the conversation starts with: “Am I speaking to the owner of the property?”

But before I could deliver a “goodbye, no thank you”, the caller was into their third question . . .”Is your home smart?”

No, I mused, but the owner is. The conversation never took off, but the ‘smart’ comment – referring to phone apps that can help run homes through the internet – got me thinking of how the care sector could become more efficient with such technology.

Of course in some situations it already exists and just days after my sales intrusion, I am shown an article from the Daily Echo in Southampton. Here a £1.64 million digital platform that could save the crisis-hit home care industry millions a year is being developed by a Hampshire University.

Researchers, technology company NquiringMinds and Southampton City Council are working on a website and set of apps that hopefully will deliver serious savings.

The CareShare platform is aimed at tailoring care contracts more closely to individual need and making better use of 'unpaid carers.'

I was particularly interested in the fact that the researchers recognise that dwindling state funding and other market forces mean some care companies are struggling.

Okay, so we’re earthed in reality here. And they also note 50 per cent of providers have refused to tender for local authority care contracts because of financial pressures (United Kingdom Homecare Association figures).

The project aims to integrate the unpaid sector worth £132 billion a year with the professional sector.

Apps will enable some sharing of basic notes and help coordinate visits so that everyone does not turn up on the same day. Oh yes, and there’s a rating system to help monitor care quality.

I’m all for joined up care no matter who is involved, but there seems to be a default position emerging: If we can’t afford it, get it for free with a volunteer. It’s one way of meeting the challenges the industry faces and I can see the argument for it.

But as we address the challenges and explore more care technology, it is incumbent on Government to honour those professional carers and care providers for the sterling work they continue to do in the face of huge financial obstacles. That, I’m afraid, costs money, but for me (and my members) it really is the smart way ahead.

Debbie Le Quesne - CEO West Midlands Care Association