A senior union official has shared his concerns about the privatised home care service and the toll it is taking on workers who are struggling on miserly salaries.
On Monday, we reported how Bradford Council admitted it has found “inconsistencies” with the care offered to elderly and vulnerable people in the district.
The local authority started investigating the service in October, which followed a row last summer about flying visits where home care workers were sometimes only given 15 minutes to complete tasks.
The Council’s strategic director of adult and community services, Janice Simpson, said: “We can confirm that while 15-minute care visits do feature as an element of the overall care delivered to people, these visits are mainly for the following tasks: assistance with medication, preparation of a light snack (sandwich and hot drink) or well-being checks.”
But she said some issues had been found.
“We have identified some instances where the time allocated to the tasks to be completed appears to be inconsistent and we are looking into these to make sure the allotted time is appropriate to the tasks required,” she said.
The leader of the Liberal Democrats on the Council, Councillor Jeanette Sunderland, has long been vocal about her worries and fears that national findings from research by the union Unison may be replicated in Bradford.
Now Unison’s head of local government in Yorkshire and Humberside has called for better regulation.
Chris Jenkinson said: “These are services that are now largely privatised with companies paying staff barely the national minimum wage.
“As many staff don’t get paid for travelling between visits and are on zero hours contracts they suffer great financial hardship.
“Unison has consistently said that services such as care for vulnerable people should be provided by local authorities directly and in-house.
“Once you privatise services the only motive for the company is to maximise profits by cutting down visiting times and impoverishing the workers who provide vital care.
“We have an ageing population and all of us will one day grow old, so it is crucial we have a service dedicated to the quality of care not the size of private companies’ profits.
“In-house services allow the local authority to ensure their staff are properly trained and the necessary checks, such as Criminal Records Bureau checks, are carried out.
“This also ensures dignity and high-quality care for vulnerable people in our communities. This Coalition government has failed to fund this service from national taxation and has failed to properly regulate the operation of these private firms.”