Senior Unison official says care should be provided by councils directly

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ludmilla Tchernucha with her mother Santa who she visits every day to top up care given by domestic carers Ludmilla Tchernucha with her mother Santa who she visits every day to top up care given by domestic carers

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.”

Comments (1)

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10:22am Mon 7 Apr 14

amanda1666 says...

I think that the Home Care System is taking advantage of the vulnerable due to high fees and total exploitation of the staff. Whilst the bosses do rake in massive sums. I had the experience of working for one of these agencies and my day began at 6 am and sometimes finished at 10.15 pm. The pay structure is totally wrong if you work 16 hours a day you will be paid for 10 due to the fact that travelling to different clients' homes is not taken into account. Also whilst mileage may be paid very scantily it is seldom accurate and the cost to the driver can be horrendous.

This in turn leads to those who do genuinely 'care' been driven out of the jobs for financial and exploitation reasons. The turnover with staff is very fast.

The Council should take over the reigns on care. Home care should not be profit based. Many people suffer so much for the cost of care. Benefits are not available to all. Some people pay up £12,000 per year plus for home care visits. Whilst some people pay nothing. That needs to be addressed.

The Council have good working conditions and do not overload the staff. I had the fortune to work as part of the Social Services Team and they have a no rush policy. Whereas in reality these 15 minute calls when divided by two people makes it a seven and a half minute call. That is how it works. So in an agency setting it tends to be a rush job. Which is no good for the client or the staff. Have you ever tried to cook a meal in seven minutes, check a person is alright, help where necessary? You do only get paid for seven minutes. Care should not be a piece work job.

So I think the Council should take over the Home Care Services. Creating new jobs, which do not burn out the staff. Good working conditions and a good consistent delivery of care.
I think that the Home Care System is taking advantage of the vulnerable due to high fees and total exploitation of the staff. Whilst the bosses do rake in massive sums. I had the experience of working for one of these agencies and my day began at 6 am and sometimes finished at 10.15 pm. The pay structure is totally wrong if you work 16 hours a day you will be paid for 10 due to the fact that travelling to different clients' homes is not taken into account. Also whilst mileage may be paid very scantily it is seldom accurate and the cost to the driver can be horrendous. This in turn leads to those who do genuinely 'care' been driven out of the jobs for financial and exploitation reasons. The turnover with staff is very fast. The Council should take over the reigns on care. Home care should not be profit based. Many people suffer so much for the cost of care. Benefits are not available to all. Some people pay up £12,000 per year plus for home care visits. Whilst some people pay nothing. That needs to be addressed. The Council have good working conditions and do not overload the staff. I had the fortune to work as part of the Social Services Team and they have a no rush policy. Whereas in reality these 15 minute calls when divided by two people makes it a seven and a half minute call. That is how it works. So in an agency setting it tends to be a rush job. Which is no good for the client or the staff. Have you ever tried to cook a meal in seven minutes, check a person is alright, help where necessary? You do only get paid for seven minutes. Care should not be a piece work job. So I think the Council should take over the Home Care Services. Creating new jobs, which do not burn out the staff. Good working conditions and a good consistent delivery of care. amanda1666
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