Thousands of adults in the UK rely on home-care workers to help them with everyday essential tasks such as bathing, getting dressed and taking medication. We are an aging population with many people living well into their 80’s and 90’s. Care workers are very much undervalued in society and many of them are deeply concerned about the state of the care sector.
Many of us have seen the horrific videos posted online where carers have been secretly filmed abusing the vulnerable people in their care. They are a real eye opener, shocking, deeply distressing to watch, and completely unacceptable. These are extreme and rare cases thankfully, but they do give a bad name to the majority of hardworking carers.
Many care workers are frightened to speak up about their poor working conditions and pay. Many have been forced out of work for raising their concerns. An Anonymous home-care worker said “I have seen many good workers leave frustrated at the poor pay and the way zero hours contracts are used by way of punishment and reward. If you turn down a shift, hours you were depending on can be taken and given to others, sometimes with only hours’ notice. I have seen how many use this as a way to simply force out staff who may have complained about quality of care. Is this acceptable? Duty of care means that we have to raise concerns, yet many are too scared of the implications financially if they do.”
To me these carers are superheros. Many don’t even get the minimum wage because their employers can get away without paying it. These employers are just plain unethical. Putting the pay and zero hours contracts aside, it takes a special person to care for elderly people full stop and they should be paid for it. Not just minimum wage! Elderly people or people with disabilities are not easy to deal with day in and day out. I know I couldn’t do it! Carers put up with a lot of abuse from clients and their families sometimes on a daily basis. Carers are one of the most undervalued and underpaid sectors in the UK.
Because our home-care system is in crisis, UNISON has started a Save Care Now campaign to raise the voices of care workers and improve the care sector. The campaign is asking councils to sign up to UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter. You can download Unisons Ethical Care Charter here.
The Ethical Care Charter is a simple way for councils to improve homecare for the vulnerable people they are responsible for. It offers a set of commitments that councils make which fix minimum standards. These standards help to protect the dignity and quality of life the vulnerable and for the carers caring for them.
The Save Care now website asks people to email their councils and ask them to sign the Ethical Care Charter. If you follow this link here, you will be asked to put in your postcode. This will then bring up the councilors in your area and a draft email for you to edit. It is very simple to use and I just did it for my council. The more people do this the more chance we have of implementing these much needed changes.
The website also has a blog which has lots of articles written by homecare workers and others with experience of care. http://www.savecarenow.org.uk/care-blog/
So if you have had bad experiences with the care sector whether as being a carer or been on the receiving end, email your council here to make your council sit up and take notice.