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Drop in home care demand down to furloughed staff becoming carers, say health chiefs

PUBLISHED: 15:38 15 May 2020 | UPDATED: 15:38 15 May 2020

People off work under the furlough scheme could be caring for older relatives, prompting a fall in demand for care at home in Suffolk, it is believed. PIcture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO

People off work under the furlough scheme could be caring for older relatives, prompting a fall in demand for care at home in Suffolk, it is believed. PIcture: GETTY IMAGES/ISTOCK PHOTO

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People off work under the furlough scheme in Suffolk may be keeping busy by caring for older relatives, it is believed.

Gavin Bultitude from Suffolk County Council's adult care team said financial support measures were in place for home care providers to ensure they remained in business when the coronavirus lockdown ended. Picture: ARCHANTGavin Bultitude from Suffolk County Council's adult care team said financial support measures were in place for home care providers to ensure they remained in business when the coronavirus lockdown ended. Picture: ARCHANT

Adult care bosses at Suffolk County Council say they have noticed a significant drop in demand for care at home during the coronavirus lockdown.

Part of that is due to hospitals having frozen elective surgery, which ordinarily would require short periods of time where people needed carers to help them in their homes.

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But it is also understood to be because people furloughed from work have opted to become carers for their elderly relatives while they are in lockdown.

Gavin Bultitude, assistant director for strategic planning with Suffolk County Council’s adult care team, said: “What we have seen is many home care providers have seen a drop off in work.

There are clear reasons for that. One could be that so many people are not at work because they are furloughed and they have chosen to support their elderly relatives themselves.

“That’s a good choice if they can do that. It means they are going into their elderly relative’s house everyday instead of perhaps various carers, which may reduce the spread of infection.

“Or maybe if they are not working they are inviting elderly relatives to live with them.

“We think people have made a range of alternatives, so the demand for home care has dropped off.”

MORE: Outpatient surgery delayed during coronavirus lockdown

The adult care team is expecting demand to pick up again as lockdown measures are eased and more people return to work.

A further increase in demand is likely as various elective surgeries such as hip or knee replacements begin again, and leave people needing some extra help at home.

The authority has set up a minimum income guarantee for those providers to ensure that they remain in business during the tough lockdown period, and means there will be providers available ready to pick up the demand as it increases over the coming weeks.

It is a similar approach taken by the council’s education team which has supported the school transport providers during the lean lockdown period in order to ensure providers are still in business when lockdown is lifted.

The Chancellor earlier this week announced the furlough scheme would be extended until October to help support those businesses in areas such as leisure and sport where it is anticipated that it will take longer to return to work.

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