A collective of Catholic charities has chosen Dementia Awareness Week to speak out on the conditions of work for homecare workers.
The Older Peoples’ Forum, a working group facilitated by CSAN and comprising Caritas Diocese of Salford, Catholic Care Leeds, SVP, Father Hudson’s Society, Irish Chaplaincy, Welcome me as I am, Nugent Care, Caritas Care and Caritas Westminster has principal issues with short visits, lack of training and poorly paid contracts.
Chair of the Forum, Mark Wiggin said today “care workers are pushed to breaking point. Jam-packed diaries mean that domiciliary carers are forced to cram visits together, often rushing through tasks and leaving appointments early to try to stick to some sort of schedule. This ‘straight in, straight out’ approach is distressing for both carer and client, with many saying that they have just fifteen minutes to help an individual whilst they tidy their home. Fifteen minute visits offer little dignity; we wouldn’t ask ourselves to make a choice between going to the toilet or getting dressed, and neither should we do the same for elderly and vulnerable people.
If we are to value the dignity of older people, we must look to the care industry and address wages that scrape minimum level, the lack of payment between visits and the over-reliance on exploitative zero-hours contracts.
Training must be a priority: currently almost half of care workers haven’t received any specialist training to deal with clients who have specific needs, such as Alzheimer’s or dementia.
If we are to bring the provision of social care back from crisis, our homecare workers must be better valued than they are currently.”
The Older Peoples’ Forum asks that the new government ensures that social care remains a key issue by:
- readdressing visiting appointments, assessed on client requirements rather than tasks or minutes,
- abolishing exploitative zero-hour contracts,
- and, introducing industry-standard levels of training, at no cost to the worker.