SureCare boss Says It Will Take “Catastrophe” To Force Care Revolution

It will take a “catastrophe” to bring about the much needed revolution in the way the elderly are cared for, one of the care industry’s leading figures has warned.

Gary Farrer, the Managing Director of SureCare, says the seriousness of the issue is far worse than the scandal of 15-minute visits highlighted earlier this week.

Farrer said: “In some areas, you are doing well if you receive a 15-minute visit. Budgets from central Government are so tight that some local authorities follow a policy of minute by minute bookings in order to save as much money as possible.

“Carers end up working in their own time to give that little bit extra but even then they are having to follow a ridiculous schedule which means some elderly people having to wait for their breakfast until midday and others who are being put to bed at 6pm. We simply cannot go on treating older people like this. There is no dignity.”

Farrer said his own company, which operates 27 care franchises and three branches across England, had opted to move away from providing purely domiciliary care services. SureCare is expanding into childcare, respite care and providing home services to carry out a full range of household tasks.

Farrer previously owned the Lancashire-based integrated care provider Safehands Group which, together with his wife Stephanie, he built into a £5.5 million turnover business before selling at the end of 2011.

He added: “I remember in my old business walking away from a tender opportunity with one of the country’s biggest councils because they were auctioning care services to the lowest bidder because of financial pressure from central Government. They wanted me to take the risk of opening offices and employing staff but in return would put me on a council framework with no guarantee of work. Sometimes there can be as many as 20 other providers on such a framework. It is all price driven rather than about quality of care.

“The sad reality is that it will probably take some kind of catastrophe to bring about the revolution in caring for our elderly which is so desperately needed.

“Rather than squeezing budgets, we should be investing in care of the elderly like other countries do. There also needs to be a cultural change in how we view older people. They should be seen as being precious rather than a nuisance. We should be learning from their wealth of experience. It is a huge shame that when you hit retirement age, the next step is seen to be death.

“We are facing a care time bomb, a world in which more and more of us will be working until we are 75 and living past 100.

“Our carers tell us that, more often than not, what elderly people want more than most is time. I think we are starting to see a shift back towards the importance of community. Even the supermarkets are picking up on this trend and opening smaller, more community-based stores in towns.

“The way our elderly are treated by central Government is scandalous. They make sure the buses run on time and our bins are emptied, but they are happy to allow people who have given great service to this country to receive care visits of just a few minutes a day.

“We need a Government to be bold enough to find the extra investment needed to give our elderly the dignity they deserve but, alongside this, we also need a change in attitude.”