Carers’ travel time will be paid in Northamptonshire to encourage longer visits for elderly

Home care staff will have travel costs paid for
Home care staff will have travel costs paid for

Professional carers in Northamptonshire who look after people in their homes are to be paid for time spent travelling between visits.

The funding, which will be provided by NHS Nene, was given after a campaign by health wathdog Healthwatch Northamptonshire to improve conditions for people who provide and receive care in their homes.

It follows a survey last year that showed elderly and disabled people felt their carers were under pressure to move between homes. They said this affected quality of care and made visits feel ‘rushed’.

In response, the watchdog lobbied the county council, who have now agreed, to buy services - using money from the NHS - for people who receive local authority-paid home care thsi winter.

The agreement will see paid travel time for home care staff as a way of relieveing pressure on them during visits.

Healthwatch Northamptonshire CEO, Rosie Newbigging, said she hope the short-term measure could be extended.

She said: “We welcome this decision by the NHS and the county council and hope that travel time will be paid for on a permanent basis.

“We are now doing a further phase of the home care survey so we will be able to find out how the changes are delivering improved quality of care.”

Councillor Suresh Patel, county council cabinet member for adult social care, said: “We have been working constructively with health colleagues to ensure individuals are able to return home in a timely way when they no longer need the hospital care.

“Investing in mainstream domiciliary care in this way allows providers to offer enhanced benefits to their staff which helps with recruitment and stability within the workforce.

“This can only be of benefit to the frail older people we are all here to serve with care being provided in familiar surroundings.”

Ben Gowland, chief executive of NHS Nene, said: “We are fully committed to ensuring that wherever possible those people who are well enough to leave hospital are supported to do so.

“This helps us to provide appropriate care for people closer to home while alleviating pressure on our hospitals. We will continue with work closely with the council and Healthwatch Northamptonshire.”