Commissioners of domiciliary care services must increase the average length of home visits in order to improve standards in the sector, industry experts have urged.
A study by business software provider the Access Group, published in partnership with United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), found that short lengths of visits create inefficiencies and are associated with lower ratings for quality of care.
Analysis of 4,700 registered care providers shows that those that deliver a greater proportion of 60-minute visits are more likely to be rated ‘Outstanding’ by the statutory regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC).
However, the Access Group found that 30-minute visits were the most frequent length among providers, accounting for 65% of all state-funded visits and 37% of private-funded visits.
Steve Sawyer, managing director of the Access Group’s health and social care division, called for increased funding to enable providers to offer higher standards of care.
He said: “Given the pressure on local authorities, it is little surprise that councils are forced to stretch their resources in order to reach as many people as possible. However, this research clearly shows that short visits are not sustainable and, with some councils still commissioning visits as short as 15 minutes, it means that mistakes are more likely and safety is compromised.”
As well as helping providers to offer higher standards of care, the Access Group report promotes the wider benefits to providers that can offer longer visits and achieve the coveted CQC ‘Outstanding’ rating.
The study also suggests that home care providers which were able to increase their revenue through higher fees are better placed to invest in more experienced staff and retain their workforce.
The analysis found that 34% of ‘Outstanding’ providers had an average age of staff of between 50 and 55.
Andrew Heffernan, membership director of UKHCA, commented on the impact the report’s findings were having in reality.
He said: “The data gathered and analysed from across the Access Group’s extensive client base, gives real insight into some of the key factors driving financial sustainability, levels of quality, and workforce retention for homecare services. This insight will help homecare providers benchmark their position against the aggregated market data in the report and focus on the areas which can have the biggest impact for their business, staff and people using their services.”
For more information and to read the ‘Hidden Dynamics 2019’ report in full, please click here.
Image credit: Bluebird Care.