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Last week we looked at problems faced by home care staff caused by the fact that their work, shifts and therefore pay are not guaranteed.

With wonderful timing, on the BBC last week we hear of an initiative being run in Cleveland whereby an agency is being paid 12 hour shifts for staff irrespective of how much work they have.

The “capacity team” is therefore available to pick up work quickly and therefore Mrs Smith, fit and ready to go home from hospital, can do so quickly and seamlessly.

This on the surface is expensive. If the authority is used to paying agencies a rate of £18 per hour, this will be for “Contact time”.

Let’s assume that the new capacity team is used only 75% of the time (this would be a good utilisation figure). And let’s assume that they spend a third of their time travelling (not unrealistic, if you are doing half hour calls and taking 10 minutes between visits).

So the contact time for a 12 hour shift becomes six hours.

And the effective contact price becomes £36 per hour.

Given the alternative – bed-blocking, long lists of people awaiting home care – so what? It is a price well paid.

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