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In an ideal world when one is relying on people looking after you, and
your needs, it would be as YOU would like to be taken care of, not
restricted by time, money and other people’s opinion of what YOU
need. Unfortunately this is not the case. The purpose of this paper is
to give a very brief account of Home Care in Fife from the users point
of view. Finally, this paper will make it clear the position of FIDN on
Home Care.


Home care is divided up by various different providers e.g. Fife Council, Direct
Payments, Independent Living Fund, Agencies and the voluntary sector e.g.
friends and relatives.

Fife Council
Fife Council is one of the largest Care providers in Fife. Recently the emphasis
has been more on personal care than housework. In the majority of cases only
one hour per week is being allocated for ironing and cleaning – this cannot
possibly keep a house hygienically clean and therefore the health of the person
may suffer. With the emphasis on a carer being sent in to do a “task” e.g. half an
hour to do a tea, and only giving the person a yoghurt and a cup of tea, whereas
that half hour a floor could be washed, washing checked, toilet cleaned and
dishes done. This is what is being achieved in the private sector. (This cannot
be cost effective to the client nor Fife Council).

One of the main problems a user has to come to terms with and understand is
why there is no back up when your carer is on holiday or ill. To give an example
– an individual who is paralysed down one side with two young children to look
after asking for help with the ironing in the two weeks the carer was off, and
being refused. Why is it presumed that this person can cope for all these weeks?
Personal care allows a person to be bathed, showered or washed in a secure
atmosphere with carers in attendance to help. As this is very personal, continuity
of carers is essential to lower stress and well being, and with the correct
equipment and care a person could hopefully carry on staying at home.

Independent Living
When you have reached the limit that Fife Council Home Care will fund for your
care, Direct Payment and Independent Living would appear to be the way to go.
This at first is quite daunting, but fear not – there is help to guide you along in the
name of Rhona McCallum and her team at Fife Direct Support Service (01333-
592656). There have been a great deal of changes lately regarding the amount
of money in capital you are allowed to have, and still receive money. For a single
person, this has been raised from £8,000 to £18,500. Also, the amount of capital
a client and their partner can have, without reducing the amount the Fund pay,
will increase from £3,000 to £11,500. A partner’s income will no longer be taken
into consideration when applying for the Independent Living Fund and this will
give many more people the opportunity to apply. Independent Living
Funding/Direct Payments allow people to go down the road of hiring agencies or

Hiring Privately
Private hiring may seem more complicated when funded, but your local Fife
Direct Support Service would take care of most of the paperwork for you, which
should take away that fear, and therefore opens up a great deal of flexibility and
freedom, allowing people to go to bed when they like, shopping, functions, have
proper food cooked for you, have your house kept tidy etc -–basically, to do the
things for you that YOU would really like to do for yourself. However, the
drawback may be that at a basic wage of £5.30 with no petrol allowance, no
pension, no double or even triple time at weekends or holidays e.g. Christmas,
there is little incentive for applicants to do the job. If your carers let you down
there is always the Agencies to turn to for backup.

This would be the easy option when hiring your own help, but you do not get very
much time for the money. With income being a huge barrier for disabled people,
an average of £10 per hour being charged and often agencies insisting that two
people are needed when hoists are being used, £20 per hour will soon put a
drain on anyone’s income. Agencies need to be careful not to price themselves
out of the market. They have a long way to go with regard to understanding the
importance of continuity of care i.e. seeing the same person each time, with
complaints being heard of “too many different faces coming into my house”.

Friends, Relatives, Volunteers
These are the “unsung heroes” – the people who must save the Government
millions of pounds. There is never enough praise for this very important sector,
people who are ready to put whatever they are doing on hold and run to the
person at the drop of a hat. But this sector is not as big as people would have
you believe. Not everybody wants to share their precious time. Care in the
Community – what does that mean? How many times have you heard “What
about your family?” “What about your neighbours?” “What about them?”
From 1 July 2002 some people will benefit from changes to personal care
charges. Many of our members are disappointed that this does not apply to all
but mainly for over 65s.
If you are over 65 and living at home; over 65 in a residential or nursing care
home; are under 65 and living in a nursing care home, then these changes will
affect you.

Over 65 at home
Will not be charged for the personal care element of their care provided by Fife
Council Home Care Service. Charges will still apply for housework tasks, etc.
Over 65 in a Nursing or Residential Home
Fife Council will contribute £145 per week to the cost of care for those who
moved into a care home before 31st March 2002. This will increase to £210 a
week for a person in a nursing home. Contact your local Social Work office.
Under 65 in a Care Home
You may be entitled to the nursing care payment but not to the personal care
payment. Your disability living allowance will not be affected.

There are leaflets available via FIDN office and also from Fife Council Social
Work Department. Fife Council also have a helpline number which is 01592-


The above changes to charging take effect from 1 July 2002 however there is the
challenge of the improvement and equality of service which may arise if the
service was free to all. There is obviously an admin costs to working out
elements of personal/home care and then collecting charges. This would help us
get away from fixation on “task” and “time”. At the moment when someone pays
for one hour of, say, ironing, they are understandably not happy if the worker
leaves after completing the job in half an hour. They are paying and want one
hours worth. If it were free, satisfaction may be higher because people would
simply be getting the job done. Satisfaction may rise also if people received
the same level of domestic service when their home carer is on holiday. Need
doesn’t disappear just because the worker is on holiday! Other improvements
would be training the home carers to ensure that people know about direct
payments and how to access advice on benefits they may be entitled to.

When people get irate about how they are being treated, we ask, “have you
complained?” The answer invariably is “We don’t want to rock the boat” or “We
don’t want to bring attention to ourselves”. It is known that people have had
hours reduced when they have complained.
If disabled people are to be kept out of very expensive hospitals and care homes,
more money will have to be invested into Home Care. Let’s get rid of waiting lists
– unbelievably, there are waiting lists – some carers are working under their
contract hours and yet we have waiting lists! Management tightening up would
release hours to these poor people who are desperate for some help.

Nobody is going to get through life unscarred, and nobody with a disability or
someone who simply needs help, should ever be made to feel guilty about
asking. What this generation has to do is get it right for the next generation,
because it could be you with a disability, in that hospital, or care home, or at
home needing help.


** This document is available in different formats including large
print. Please contact us so we can send you a copy if required.

Fife Independent Disability Network, West Bridge Mill,
Kirkcaldy, KY1 1TE.

Tel/Fax: 01592 203993       Text Phone: 01592 646885
Email: fidn@disnet.enta.net

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