Recruiting and retaining home care staff has been identified as a ‘high risk’ problem by a local authority as it struggles to meet demand.
Wrexham Council currently works with five different domiciliary care providers to help elderly people in the county live independently in their own homes.
Officers said efforts to keep hold of staff were being hampered by better pay being offered by other industries.
During the last 12 months, the authority contracted more than 5,500 hours worth of care per week for 454 people living across the area.
Towards the end of last year, support for almost 90 of them was placed in doubt as one major provider encountered serious financial difficulties.
Despite the future of Allied Healthcare later being secured through its sale to the CRG Group, a senior politician said recruitment continues to be difficult.
In a report due to go before councillors this week, Cllr Joan Lowe, lead member for health and adult social care, said: “Whilst there have been improvements in recruitment and retention during the year, challenges within the sector remain.
“The team work closely with our contracted providers in order to understand pressures within the sector and identify solutions to help relieve those pressures.
“Quarterly forums are held with the providers, to discuss issues affecting the domiciliary care market in Wrexham.
“Competition from other sectors of employment continues to be cited as an issue, although the rates of pay within domiciliary care in particular are now in excess of £9.40 per hour across most providers.
“Vacancies within provider agencies are now advertised on the council’s job pages in order to increase awareness of jobs within the sector.”
Cllr Lowe said people living in rural areas often encounter delays in receiving care.
The council has recently increased the rates it pays to providers by 10 per cent on the condition the money is passed on to frontline staff.
It is hoped that the pay uplift will help to attract more home carers.
However, a recruitment event held by the authority in January was hampered by bad weather.
She said: “In January 2019, a jobs fair was held at Tŷ Pawb after a series of consultation meetings led by workforce development.
“All domiciliary care providers were represented on the day and feedback from them on the arrangements and location was very positive.
“However, freezing weather conditions on the day contributed to the lack of attendance and few applications were made.
“There is significant focus on the domiciliary care sector at a local, regional and national level as this presents a high-risk area particularly due to the staff recruitment and retention issues and the demand for these services to enable people to remain living at home, to facilitate timely hospital discharge and provide support for carers.”
The report will be considered by members of Wrexham Council’s safeguarding, communities and wellbeing scrutiny committee at a meeting tomorrow.
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme).
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