‘GRAVE and urgent’ concerns have been raised by the care sector’s representative body, which has said it was not consulted by the government on long-term care benefit increases.
Jersey Care Federation chair Cheryl Kenealy has written to ministers following their announcement this week that long-term care benefits for people with lifelong conditions – who need help with daily tasks – would be increased by 12% at the beginning of the new year.
The government said the above-inflation uplift had come amid growing cost pressures across the sector, with the JCF having called for increased financial support available to providers.
But in a letter addressed to Health Minister Karen Wilson, Social Security Minister Elaine Millar and Assistant Health Minister Rose Binet, Ms Kenealy said the JCF had ‘grave and urgent concerns about the LTC Update that was partially distributed to some of our members yesterday, and to media today’.
She added: ‘While the past should have taught us to expect this, we are once again shocked and in some disbelief that we have yet again not been consulted on a serious strategic matter which will mean the difference between our sector surviving, or not, and care in the community being accessible to citizens, or not.
‘The content of the LTC Update, due to the lack of consultation, is extremely concerning. It has many very damaging consequences, which we hope are unintended. The Home Care rate is expressed as being “up to 12%” – this seems to suggest everyone will get a different percentage rate? If this is correct, we have no way of knowing, then effectively nothing has changed for our Home Care industry – the uncertainty around LTC pricing that is jeopardising their businesses remains.’
A recent report from the Jersey Care Commission, which highlighted the ‘potentially catastrophic’ risks posed to services in the Island, asked the government to consider how it could assist and support the care sector to deliver sustainable services, taking into account the increasingly ageing local community.
Announcing the LTC uplift, Deputy Wilson said: ‘The Jersey Care Commission’s recently published report highlighted the need for government to do more to support the care sector – in recognition of the vital work it does for our community.’
However, in Ms Kenealy’s letter she wrote: ‘Over the last 12 months you have reviewed our sector, asked us to explain how we run our businesses and presumed on our time and co-operation. However, when it matters the most, you have not consulted us.
‘We are a disenfranchised sector of businesses at breaking point and we are extremely concerned about the impact on our vulnerable clients.’