A Surrey-based home care provider has joined the call for emergency access to fuel for care workers, warning that without it, the impact on essential services could be “disastrous”.
CHD Care at Home, which has four branches across Surrey and Hampshire, described the impact of fuel shortages on its business as “enormous”, with many carers unable to get enough fuel to make their rounds due to a £30 limit on petrol at some stations.
Shaleeza Hasham, head of hospitality and communications at CHD, explained: “Carers can do up to 100 miles per day so these restrictions mean that they are having to fuel up more often as they cannot fill their tanks. Not only is this more costly, but it’s also adding time to their already busy days. Traffic is becoming harder to get through too, with lengthy queues causing significant delays.”
Hasham said that at CHD’s South Surrey branch, delays are causing rounds to be pushed back by at least 30 minutes, with carers missing breaks and working later to ensure all clients are seen.
“As a provider of home care we look after extremely vulnerable individuals, some of whom cannot even get out of bed without support or assistance, the situation is proving extremely difficult and stressful,” she added.
“Being unable to get to clients who depend on us just isn’t an option. To minimise the impact as shortages continue, we would highly support NHS and key workers being given priority for fuel. Otherwise, the impact could be disastrous on the essential services we deliver.”
Both ADASS and the Home Care Association have called for emergency measures to be put in place to ensure home care workers have access to fuel and enable community services to continue.
Jane Townson, chief executive of the Homecare Association, has been engaged in urgent talks with senior officials at the Department of Health and Social Care, local government representatives and health policymakers throughout the weekend, to find a solution.
“Home care delivery remains disrupted by difficulties obtaining fuel and traffic jams. Despite what the likes of the Automobile Association (AA) have said, there is only patchy prioritisation of essential workers, including home care workers on garage forecourts,” she said.
“In previous fuel strikes, local authorities have been able to arrange for scarce fuel to be prioritised for essential users. There is a question whether this needs authority from central government, under civil contingencies legislation, to address the current problem. We call for this issue to be resolved urgently, as home care workers need a fast solution so they can get to people who rely on their vital help. The lack of communication from government is not helping.”
ADASS president Stephen Chandler commented: “Care staff must be able to do their jobs. They provide essential support to people to eat and drink, wash, go to bed and get up and out to work and other activities – and to take medication and relieve pain.
“The government must do all it can to guarantee adequate fuel supplies at filling stations, but the problems being experienced by care staff show that special steps are needed to help them. The public also has a responsibility not to make their difficulties any worse.”