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Home care franchise Bluebird Care has welcomed a BBC investigation into home care companies. Bluebird Care, which has a network of 34 offices across the UK and Ireland, condemned the findings of BBC's Panorama investigation and stated that the alleged shortfalls in service as 'completely unacceptable'.

Panorama sent its reporters undercover to expose the shortcomings in the care of elderly and vulnerable people by three private care companies. Allegations included short or non-existent visits; inadequate staff training; and poor basic levels of care, including missed medication. The documentary also highlighted the role of some Social Services departments in trying to drive down prices when purchasing 'block contracts' for home care from the private sector.

Paul Tarsey, Bluebird Care's Managing Director, said: 'We welcome the Panorama investigation. The reporters' findings, which relate to a small number of home care companies, are completely unacceptable.

'Social Services have a role to play in driving down prices. But that's never an excuse for delivering poor quality of service. If you can't provide an acceptable level of care for the price, you shouldn't attempt to. Some private companies are charging totally unrealistic prices that cannot cover the costs of good quality care, adequate staff training and administration and business costs.'

The block contracts are awarded to private care companies following a tendering process. Bluebird Care does not tender for block contracts and believes they are not a viable way to deliver acceptable levels of service. Paul added: 'Panorama's findings, although relating to a minority of companies, brings the home care industry into disrepute. The documentary clearly illustrates that the poor quality care, which is frequently delivered under block contracts, is unacceptable and serves no one and no organisation well.

'It is exactly what Bluebird Care is not about and proves the point that you need to pay a realistic price to receive acceptable quality. We place our emphasis on value for money, professionalism and good old fashioned service!

'For a long time now, we have been championing high quality care and, most importantly, encouraging our staff to look at care as a career rather than just a job. Our long-term training and staff development packages have been hugely successful in making sure we have the right people to satisfy the needs of our customers.'

Tim Roberts, who recently became a Bluebird Care franchise owner for the Warwick and Stratford office, said: 'I am just glad that my research led me to Bluebird and that I chose to sign up with them. The Panorama programme highlighted everything that's wrong with some sections of the domiciliary care market. I realise that it will inevitably raise suspicion about our industry as a whole, but our quality and passion to 'get it right' will shine through.'


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