Missed calls had placed users at risk

Vulnerable older people in housing need are among the target groups under Supporting People.
Vulnerable older people in housing need are among the target groups under Supporting People.

A leading care provider is opening a part time office in Cookstown to help address ‘safety’ issues raised on its services by a watchdog body.

The move is one of a number put in place by the Antrim-based agency to address late or cancelled calls which happened earlier this year mainly in the Cookstown and Magherafelt areas.

The Regulation Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) issued two failure to comply notices against Extra Care which found that “there was evidence to demonstrate that the safety and well-being of service users had been placed at risk due to a substantial number of missed and late calls”, and “that the number of missed calls had increased significantly between February and May 2018”.

In a statement, Extra Care apologised and pointed out that recruitment had been a challenge, but had now returned to a level of stability.

However, the agency pointed out that the summer months means it will be difficult to guarantee the current level of service.

The part-time office to support local care will be at William Street, Cookstown, in the same building as the local Citizens Advice Bureau and will be staffed by a manager/senior manager over the next six to 12 months.

The Northern Health Trust said it is working in partnership with Extra Care to make sure that all service users in the Mid Ulster area continue to receive a dependable and safe domiciliary care service.

“Progress is being closely monitored and we remain in contact with the RQIA,” said a spokesperson.

Mid Ulster SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone said he had been contacted recently by a family about “serious failings in delivery by Extra Care and it is for that company to promptly address those failings and deliver care on a reliable daily basis.”

Mr McGlone said he had read the statement issued by Extra Care.

“Any Care Provider is in contract to do exactly that: deliver care in the community in people’s homes and many people are completely reliant on those calls to help with getting up, medication, getting bathed and all the daily living that the rest of us can be thankful that we can do independently and in good health,” he continued.

“I do place on record my thanks to the many care workers who reliably and efficiently do that day and daily and, in fact are, like members of the family.”

Mr McGlone said he has been in contact with the Northern Health Trust about these shortcomings and will be expecting a prompt improvement to people.

“They are the most frail and vulnerable in society and we owe it to them to make sure they are looked after in what, for many, are their twilight years,” he added.