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Direct Payments and staff recruitment problems

anaqianaqi Member Posts: 54 Courageous
I'm on direct payments and I've been trying to recruit staff for 12 months but I'm not having any luck, all I get is time wasters and people letting me down.  

I'm supposed to have 2 PAs working 12 hours a week each but since July 2016 I've only had one, and on Friday she quit giving one week notice.  From 28th April I won't have any help at all.

I have no idea what I'm going to do.  I can't use care agencies as they can't support me with my parental responsibilities.  Social Services say it's my responsibility to recruit staff.  The problem is the applicants are mostly unsuitable.  I'm not being picky, it's major things like they can't drive (advert says car essential) or they can't do the hours I need, or they live over half an hour away.

I am fed up of people wasting my time.  On two occasions I have arranged to interview four people and not a single person has turned up.  The last time it happened I complained to my support service because they applicants claimed they never got the letter about the interview.  The support service said the letters were sent and that sometimes people apply for jobs because the job centre tells them to and they don't really want the job.

I can only afford to pay my staff minimum wage and I think this is putting people off.  McDonalds pays their staff better wages than that!  The number of hours is also putting people off, I've had one person turn it down because they need 16 hours for their tax credits.

My health is suffering due to the lack of support over the last 10 months and now the stress is having a serious impact on my health and wellbeing too.  I have no idea what to do.  I can't go on like this but all the support service can do is keep placing the job advert.  I'm supposed to be starting physio but I can't book an appointment if I don't have someone to take me. It's private via a Personal Health Budget so I can't get hospital transport.  I'm also overdue a sight test which I need because of the medication I'm on but I can't book it as I have no way of getting there.  I've got to have some dental work done too (a wisdom tooth extraction and a filling) and my 70 year old dad is having to take me to those.  I can't keep relying on him all the time.

I don't know where else I can go for help.  I've tried the Nottinghamshire Help Yourself website.  It's impossible to navigate, there is only one female carer listed in my area and she never replied to my emails.  I tried advertising the job but I got no response from it.  I've also tried Simple Needs but again there is only one carer in my area, her listing is six years old and she lives half an hour away.  

I've advertised on Gumtree and in all the Facebook job groups but all I've had is time wasters.  I need someone to take the job seriously but no-one seems to be willing to do that when I can only afford to pay minimum wage.

I'm not sure how I'm going to cope after next week, and to add to the stress my cat was run over and killed on Monday.  

I honestly don't know what to do.  If I go to social services I risk them cutting my package further, like they have at the last two reviews and I don't have the energy to fight another seven month long battle to retain my care package like I did in 2014.  

Sorry for rambling on.  Just needed to vent my frustrations about the (lack of) care system.  any suggestions gratefully received.

Replies

  • Debbie_ScopeDebbie_Scope Member Posts: 947 Pioneering
    Hello @anaqi

    Sorry to hear what you're going through. I'm going to call on my colleague @Angela_Scope to see what she thinks about this and whether she has any advice for you. We will put our heads together and see what we can come up with.
    There might not be any other choice than to talk to your social worker and it's awful how thinking about speaking to them makes you feel at risk of having your package cut. 

    Do you have any family members or friends that could become your PA? Technically direct payments can't be paid to family members but if there isn't any other provision, this could be something to consider and could be allowed by the local authority.

    No need to apologise for rambling either, we all understand how frustrating this is for you and we're pleased that you've found somewhere where you can let off some steam and have a rant. 
  • anaqianaqi Member Posts: 54 Courageous
    @DebbieVoakes
    Thank you!  I really appreciate that.  the frustrating thing is I know what the problems are but they are out of my control.

    I don't have any friends who can help.  I  have very few friends locally as I've been housebound without assistance for the past 20 years.  I don't have any family who could help either.  My parents are retired, my mum has her own health problems and my sister lives 2 hours away.  My FIL is 91 and very frail so he can't help either.  

    I am concerned about contacting social services based on my many negative experiences.  In 2014 I had a 7 month long battle to retain my care package when they slashed my hours from 32 to 23 for no other reason than their budget had been cut and they had to reduce everyone's hours.  I had to make a FOI request because they said it was policy to only allow 3 hours domestic support per week (to do all the cleaning, shopping and laundry for a family of 5!).  It turned out there was no such policy and it was a limitation of the computer software they used to record assessments.  In the end I complained to the top level and after seven weeks of not hearing anything at all they said I could have 26 hours per week and agreed I could spend it flexibly. 

    At the next review they cut my package by another 2 hours to 24 hours.  My children are getting older now (11, 12 and 15) and I'm afraid they will say I don't need as much help with them and cut my hours even further.

    The problems I have is the number of hours, I need 2 people for 12 hours each but people need 16 hours for their tax credits.  The LA give me £9.10 an hour so I can only afford to pay minimum wage - £7.50 an hour.  People can earn £8 - £12 an hour working for local care agencies so they aren't interested in applying for my job.  Even cleaners earn more than that!  I'd like to be able to pay £8.50 an hour but I can't afford it in my budget.

    I need someone in the afternoon when my kids get home from school.  It's a busy time for me, getting snacks, going to the kids medical appointments, helping with homework, preparing our evening meal, and keeping the house tidy, but everyone else is busy then too and don't want to work those hours.

    Also because it's a minimum wage job people don't really take it seriously.  I need someone who is reliable, not someone who will quit as soon as a better job comes along.

    I have to be on Direct Payments because the LA can't meet my needs with home care due to me having parental responsibilities.  They say it's my responsibility to have a contingency plan when things go wrong but I can't use agencies for the same reasons they can't - they don't work with children, and when things fail all the LA can do is put me in a respite home, which doesn't meet my needs either.

    It's incredibly frustrating because I've exhausted all my options and I still don't have the support I need.  I know how wonderful DP can be when it works.  I had a brilliant PA for 8 years but she retired last summer and I've been struggling ever since.
  • Angela_ScopeAngela_Scope Member Posts: 10 Connected
    Hi @anaqi

    Sorry to hear about the difficulties you are experiencing in recruiting new PA's and getting the support that you need. It certainly does sound like you have been advertising in all the places that I would have suggested.

    You mention that you feel that the number of hours available to each PA post is preventing people from applying then it may be worth exploring with your support organisation the possibility of changing the way that the PA hours are divided between the two posts.  For example a main PA with a larger number of contracted hours and your second PA with a reduced number of hours, with the contracted stipulation that each covers for the other for holidays, sickness etc. 

    I don't know if this would be appropriate for you, and this is not a recommendation but I have come across an organisation called Homecare Direct in my research who appear to help with the recruitment and management of PA's.  It may be worth having a look at their website.

    You say that you are unable to use care agencies as they can't help with your parental responsibilities.  I am a little confused about this. Would you feel able to tell me a little more about the support you require that an agency cannot provide - if you would prefer to discuss this in private then please email your telephone number to me and I will arrange to give you a call. Email me at [email protected]

    You mention the difficulties you have in getting to health related appointments - there may be local escorted transport services in your area that you could use. These are sometimes provided by groups of local neighbourhood volunteers or by a charity.  Disability Nottinghamshire, a local disability information service, may be able to provide you with details of any suitable schemes in your area. If cost of transport to health appointments is an issue then it may be possible for you get help towards this through the NHS Healthcare Travel Costs Scheme.

    I hope this is useful and I look forward to hearing back from you

  • anaqianaqi Member Posts: 54 Courageous
    Thanks for the reply.  I have made some progress with this.  I have managed to get some cover from an agency for the next few weeks so I won't be completely without support, which is a relief!

    I've had difficulty contacting social services, they upgraded their computer system and it's been down for a few days so they couldn't speak to me as they couldn't access my file.  I finally got through to them this afternoon and the duty social worker just called me back.  It's been fourteen months since my last annual review so they are going to try and bring this year's review forwards but there is a waiting list.

    I've got Penderels Trust helping me to recruit but all they can do is advertise the position and help me with the interviews and paperwork.  

    I have talked with Penderels Trust about changing the hours from two staff working 12 hours each to one working 16 and one working 8 hours, but they recommended against it as they didn't think anyone would want to work 8 hours a week.

    I wasn't able to use care agencies in the past when my children were small because they weren't allowed to work with children.  They could take me out but they couldn't take my children out with us and they couldn't watch my children if I needed to rest.  The local authority admitted that they could not meet my assessed parenting needs using their contracted home care agencies because of these reasons.  Having Direct Payments was my only option.  

    I don't qualify for financial help with getting to appointments because my husband works full time.  I need someone to take me and bring me straight home from appointments as I have limited energy and I can't wait around for transport.  I use a mobility scooter but I'm not strong enough to lift it into a taxi and it doesn't have tie down points for use in an accessible vehicle.  I do have a NHS manual wheelchair but I can't propel it myself so even if I got transport I'd still need someone to go into the appointment with me. I don't qualify for an NHS powerchair because most of the time I can walk on crutches inside my own home.

    Social Services say I don't need help getting to GP appointments because they can be called out to the house, even though it's practically impossible to get a home visit.  My other appointments are for things like dentist, opticians, private physio and my children's appointments (dentist, asthma clinic, opticians, etc).
  • Angela_ScopeAngela_Scope Member Posts: 10 Connected
    Hi @anaqi

    Really pleased to hear that you you have been able to get some cover from a care agency for the next few weeks.  Does this include the support to and from appointments and the support you need around your parenting responsibilities? 
    Is using that agency on a long term basis an option?

    Angela
  • anaqianaqi Member Posts: 54 Courageous
    Hi!

    Using the agency long term isn't really an option but at least I know they are there for cover when I need it.  They are just doing the basic household chores at the moment.  I've been relying on my parents to ferry me about to appointments but they can't keep on doing it all the time and I feel guilty asking them. 

    I decided to re-advertise the job as two positions, 16 hours and 8 hours a week, but before the adverts went out I had a late application for the previously advertised job.  Penderels have contacted her on my behalf and she is interested in doing all the hours.  I am interviewing on Tuesday.  My support worker joked that if she doesn't turn up for the interview then she's going to quit!  LOL!
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