Wednesday, 30 May 2007
Wednesday, 23 May 2007
Last night the Lib Dems wouldnt go far enough, they wouldnt reject privatisation . . . so the Labour and the Conservative and Greens wouldnt back them. They lost control of the City.
Labour came forward and took up the reigns! Committed to an inhouse service, the Labour group showed leadership and stuck by us.
It was a meeting full of energy. Our campaign has been successful, we have kept the inhouse service. It doesnt mean there wont be changes, of course there will. The significance of this victory is that we have established the need for a Council to commit to its inhouse service, for the leadership of the council to commit to deliver services directly and respect its own workforce and the unique contribution we make to the communities of this City.
Friday, 18 May 2007
Wednesday, 16 May 2007
It means the meeting was suspended for 7 days to give everyone time to talk. One thing is clear, the plan to privatise the Home Care service will have to be shelved.
Let's see what discussions with all political parties over the next few days will uncover. They need to take responsibilty for a high quality, well managed, accountable, responsive, secure, service user focused Home Care service which puts the quality of the relationships between Home Care workers and service users as a top priority - just like the older and disabled people of Bristol asked them to!
The speakers were:
Lydia Hayes of T&G "What is happening in Bristol is significant, what will happen in Bristol will be ground breaking.
Care will be Celebrated in this city – tonight is the start. Care for the elderly and the vulnerable will not be marginalised. Care workers will be proud of their profession and will demand to be valued as professionals.
Informal carers, those that give their love, give their time, give their emotional energy
for those dear to them who need their assistance, will be supported and assisted by care professionals.
Ivan Lewis, the minister for social care, has recognised that current provision in England is inadequate, he has asked for a national debate. Let that debate start tonight,
Let the voices of the home care workers and the service users be heard.
Charlotte Leslie of the Conservative Party gave a passionate insight into to the true value of care by drawing on her personal experience of caring for an older vulnerable person with failing sight.
Jack Dromey, T&G Deputy General Secretary had a message for Bristol City Council - you may be seeking to cast aside the Home Care workers – but WE won’t. There is a national crisis in care – that is not an excuse for allowing a local crisis to emerge. It is a reason to put things right and to start putting it right locally.
The Home Care Workers of Bristol have three demands:
1 - that 50% of the Home Care service is kept in house. Enough is enough, no further privatisation.
2 - that the vacancy freeze which the service has struggled with on and off for years is now lifted.
3 - that the Council demonstrates a commitment to, and a respect for, high quality management of its Home Care service.
It is only if these three demands are met that we can be sure older and vulnerable people in this city are protected.
Stephanie Weston was the final speaker of the evening. There were quite a few in the audience that shed tears. She said: "We are paid Carers, but its beginning to feel like we really aren’t supposed to care. In a world where only the cheapest service will do, are we supposed to get in and out of a house as quick as possible?
Are we supposed to care by doing the bare minimum?
Are we supposed to resist from building any bond or attachment with people?
It is supposed to be ‘unprofessional’ to get too close, to really care.
I’m going to talk about the truth that anyone who works in Home Care knows.
The whole point of Home Care is to prevent people in need ending up in institutions. To stop them from going into residential or nursing homes before they need to, to stop them from needing hospitalization, to stop them from becoming that most demonised of patients: ‘bed blockers’.
So we look after them at HOME. From the minute we walk through the door, we enter their personal space, we impact on their personal private lives.
We do an amazing job, we are special people who support special people.
The relationships we build and the trust people place in us cannot be priced.
How much value can be placed on being a friendly, familiar face to a lonely person?
How much value can be placed on our role as an extra family member during times of crisis?
These things are special things, these things should not be ignored because they have no financial value.
They cannot be costed. We are priceless!
Councillors and the people of Bristol: You have a great service with a flexible, dedicated, hard working, workforce. A service which is cherished by its users and their families. A service which is irreplaceable.
Work with us to build on these foundations and Celebrate Care
Provide an in house homecare service which others covet
A service which treats people as individuals and values the unique and intimate bond between service users and homecare assistance
A service which will set the benchmark
A service where care comes before profit
A Celebration of Care that Bristol can be proud of.
Tuesday, 8 May 2007
Please join us for our CELEBRATION OF CARE, Bristol Cathedral, Friday 11th May, 6.30pm.
Please don’t expect hymns and candles – this is not a Church Service! The Celebration of Care is about Home Care, for Service Users and for the family members who care for them as well as for Home care workers.
Friday, 4 May 2007
Wednesday, 2 May 2007
Leader Barbara Janke (Lib Dem) told the local newsapaper that high quality care was their top priority (that's why they want to privatise it ?!?). Labour leader Helen Holland said: "We have been totally supportive of the carers and the service users, many of whom have contacted us and are very worried. We are doing all we can to support them."Conservative leader Richard Eddy said: "The massive support for this petition demonstrates the genuine concern within the city over the crass and insensitive way in which the Lib Dems have handled the home care issue."Immediately after the elections it is vital that the new council finds a permanent solution and genuinely listens to the trades unions and home care service users."
Today Lib Dems are putting out local election material which says: "Vote Lib Dem to save Home Care - we are not privatising Home Care and that's a promise!"
Politics can be very strange indeed. Anyway, what we have achieved is to have Home Care as the leading local issue in the elections with EVERY party in all wards talking to voters about it in their literature: Greens, Labour, Lib Dem, Tory, Respect. This is unprecedented - we have achieved so much. The days and weeks after the local elections will be critical for our campaign.
Thursday, 26 April 2007
Brendan Barber, General Secretary of the TUC launched the march with some carefully chosen words of support and encouragement. Later, at the Rally in Easton Community Centre, our senior steward Allison Fitton read out messages of support from Care workers in America. Other speakers were Busharat Ali (Labour Candidiate for Lawrence Hill), Feruk Choudhury (Labour Candidate for Easton), Paulette North (Respect Candidate for Easton) and Paul Smith (prospective Labour MP for Bristol West). However, Stephanie Weston left many of us with tears in our eyes as she gave this speech:
Every one of us carries enormous responsibilities, with pride.
We never know what we are going to come across when we start each shift. Anything could happen, and it’s down to us to sort out the crises and stay calm when others are frightened.
The people we care for are society’s hidden people. They are not customers; they are individuals who need our care. We are proud to help them to live in their own homes and support them in maintaining their dignity, pride, beliefs and independence.
If our service users are worried about anything
They talk to us
They trust us
They confide in us
And they do that because we are the friendly familiar face they see day after day and they feel secure in the fact we are part of the council and can be trusted.
People don’t trust the private sector because they know they are in it for profit. Homecare is a critically important service. We know that it should not be sold off at public action to the cheapest bidder. It is absolutely wrong that the most vulnerable members of our society should be paying the price for the council's finance problems.
If they want to cut costs then the council should start by saving the £800,000 per year that private agencies overcharge them.
Many of our service users have paid their taxes and national insurance all their lives. Most pay towards the cost of their care. And yet the council failed to consult them about the proposals to privatize a service which is a lifeline to many.
Perhaps it was an oversight
Perhaps they just didn’t care
Well we care!
The Councils plans are:
Shame on you Bristol City Council!
We are a voice for our service users and we will be heard. We will stand shoulder to shoulder with them, their families and the people of Bristol’s communities, who know the difference between right and wrong.
Councillor Keily has grabbed the headlines in today’s Evening Post offering us the chance to bid for running the Homecare business ourselves. He says it means we Home Care workers can all share in the profits.
Councillor Keily, we don’t want profits, we want decent jobs and high quality care. No one should make a profit out of care!
The Council should not underestimate our commitment to our service users. We are going to fight this privatization.
We have massive public support
We have press support.
To my fellow Home Care workers I say:
For us to win this
Means we all must hold our heads up high
for what we do
for who we are
And how special our service is.
Don’t lose sight of it . . .
We are the women who do a job most people are not cut out to do, we are the women that most service users trust. We are the women who will not be silenced, bullied or appeased. We must Stand together and take whatever steps are necessary to ensure that the future of Home Care
Is not as a private service but a public service where the care comes before the profit.
Friday, 20 April 2007
He has offered us this as an opportunity to run a democratic business where all workers can share in the profits. Doesn't he get it? NO ONE SHOULD MAKE A PROFIT FROM HOME CARE!
We will continue our campaign for a publicly-owned service which is accountable to the people of Bristol and delivers high-quality care.
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
We stand with you in your fight to preserve quality care for the elderly and people with disabilities. We stand with you in your fight to win recognition and respect for the selfless, hard work of homecare. Your quality care brings companionship, dignity and independence to the most vulnerable people in society. There is no more important work in your community and your jobs should not be privatized.
Here in California, we are winning broader support from both Democrats and Republicans in beating back proposed cuts to homecare funding. With persistence, our voices are being heard and homecare workers are winning better wages and benefits every day.
Know that we share in your commitment and struggle and that there are 200,000 California homecare workers supporting you as you work toward what is fair, just and decent.
Long-Term Care Workers' Union
California United Homecare Workers
Dear TGWU Sisters and Brothers,
On behalf of 30,000 unionized public and private sector home care and nursing home workers in the Washington State who are members of SEIU 775, I am writing to express our solidarity and support in your current struggle for high-quality, publicly accountable home care services in Bristol.
Home care workers perform some of the most important, and least recognized, work in our society, providing life-sustaining care to frail elderly persons and persons with disabilities. In the United States, home care workers often earn the minimum wage and have been frequently denied legal rights and protections that most other workers take for granted.
Twenty years ago, home care workers in the United States began to unite for dignity and strength through our union, SEIU, under the slogan "Invisible no more." Today, over 400,000 home care workers have joined SEIU nationally and in many cases have seen their compensation double, earning increased pay, health benefits, leave time, other benefits, and most importantly of all, recognition for the important
work that they do.
Home care workers in the United States have achieved these victories here by doing precisely what you are doing today: holding politicians accountable for high-quality care, dignified work, and the right to unite together for dignity and justice on the job.
Please accept our wishes of support and solidarity as you rally today to maintain high standards of quality care and quality jobs and do not hesitate to contact us if we can provide other support or assistance to you in your current struggle.
Friday, 13 April 2007
PUBLIC MARCH and RALLY
Saint Marks Road
SUPPORT THE KEEP BRISTOL HOME CARE CAMPAIGN
Assemble: Outside Sweet Mart, halfway up St Marks Rd
March with Home Care Assistants against the privatisation of Bristol City Council Care jobs. We care about older and disabled vulnerable people in your community who need our care. Join us in a peaceful march to demand quality care services, accountable to local people.
“Home Care is a critically important service, it should not be sold off at public auction to the cheapest bidder. The Council manage its own in house service properly; it is the best chance of providing a service for Bristol to be proud of. We need our service users, their families and all people in Bristol to support us. We will not abandon our service users. Please join our march and sign our online petition at: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/items/epetition.html
Refreshments and Speeches at Easton Community Centre
Thursday, 12 April 2007
Steps we are taking:
We have formed a committee of 34 Home care assistants who will lead campaign organisation
- We will get involved with local council elections and back candidates who back us
- We will keep positive and recognise that we are making good progress, we are proud of who we are and the jobs we do, we are proud to serve the older and disabled people of Bristol
- We will gather as many signatures as possible for our petition
We need our service users, their families and all people in Bristol to support us. We are ordinary working women, we are not trouble makers, but we are not a push-over. We will not abandon our service users and we will not be bullied out of our jobs.
Please back our campaign and sign our online petition on the Council's website: http://www.bristol.gov.uk/items/epetition.html Keep Bristol Home Care. Please talk to us in the street, we wear a mint green uniform and there are hundreds of us. We need to know you care too.
Tuesday, 3 April 2007
The issues over bringing in more private firms to provide Home Care services has undergone a further twist. After the protests, debates and finally, a Cabinet decision, comes the disclosure that the city council is overpaying home care companies to the tune of £800,000 a year.
And the news that it is looking at bringing in an electronic monitoring system to ensure that this does not happen in the future will undermine the confidence people are being asked to have in a wholly private home care service.
Basically, this means that currently the city council is paying almost £1 million a year too much for the private services it recieves. How on earth can such overpayments have been allowed to happen?
Is this proof of what can go wrong when a city council gives up running its own service? The city council has argued that buying home care service will not only be cheaper but that the standard of service will be the same. That is a difficult arguement to sustain given this latest revelation.
And it will give the opponents of this switch to privately provided home care services more concern and arguements to use in their continued campaign. But equally significant it raises cause for concern about the relationship between the city council and those who deliver these services.
The Transport and General Workers Union has lodged a dispute with Bristol City Council on behalf of all the trade unions representing the workers, the vast majority of whom are women.
Over the past 12 months hundreds have volunteered to change their working hours to enable the council controlled service to operate from 7am – 11pm for 365 days a year. In the past few weeks they have staged four mass demonstrations and leafleted supermarket shoppers, football fans and local residents. The Council should NOT underestimate the determination of the Home Care Assistants to keep their jobs and protect their service users. We will continue to campaign for a providing an in-house, first class care for vulnerable people in Bristol.
The meetings will take place:
Tuesday 3rd April, Rose Green Centre, 1pm
Wednesday 4th April, Southville Centre, 1pm
Thursday 5th April, BAWA Club, 1pm
Thursday, 29 March 2007
Her speech. I address this full Council meeting because the financial year has been a complete disaster for the Older vulnerable people of Bristol. On behalf of the Homecare Assistants of the City I offer you this message:
We are disgusted at how we have been treated
We know the public has been misled
We know that service users are at risk
We will not give up fighting for our service users’ right to high quality care.
We will not be bullied out of our decent, public sector jobs, and cast aside into the private sector
We have repeatedly told Cabinet that there are problems with private sector carers. We have given them case after case of workers not knowing how to use a hoist, not knowing what a catheter bag is or a dossett box, almost unbelievably not knowing how to use a microwave.
I list below recent instances when private agency workers have failed turn up in the very sheltered housing unit where I work.
Agency staff arrived over three hours late
Service users didn't get morning medication prompt or breakfast until Council Homecare was alerted at 11am by an angry service user who was still awaiting care. By the time the agency staff had arrived the majority of the work had been covered by your in-house team.
Agency staff failed to arrive for a morning shift
Resulting in the Council Homecare having to scrabble around to fit in the extra work load and an extra member of staff being drafted in on their day off.
Agency staff failed to arrive for an afternoon / evening shift
After the agency member of staff failed to arrive for the start of the shift at 3pm our line manager called the agency to be told that the member of staff was on the way but may be late because of the bus. Our manager phoned them again at 4pm because the agency staff had still not arrived and was told that they didn't know where she was but would send another member of staff within the hour.
Despite promises throughout the evening no agency worker arrived which again caused inconvenience to the service users, extra workload to the member of staff who was on duty and compromised their safety and resulted in a member of staff coming in on her night off.
On all of the above occasions Bristol city home care stepped into the breach, working extra hours, covering extra workload.
On all of the above occasions the agency could not account for the whereabouts of its staff.
We have provided information about the massive turnover in agency staff. CSCI reports repeatedly criticise private agencies for arriving late for service user appointments or even not at all. When one of my own service users became a victim of private agency incompetence the worker did not bother to try and coax her out of bed in the morning and did not encourage her to take her tablets. As a consequence I found her at lunchtime, soaked in urine and struggling to sit upright with no pain relief. The Council has a recruitment freeze on in Home care, to cover a colleague’s maternity leave we have welcomed with open arms 12 different agency workers in just over 8 weeks. Yes, 12 different people to cover the work of one regular, friendly, reliable well-known face. Remember we work with people with dementia, recovering from strokes, the terminally ill. Is it right that they constantly open the door to complete strangers who are often not even in uniform?
So to bring you bang up to date, just this weekend a private agency Homecare has caused an injury to a service user and an injury to a Council Homecare on the same day because they failed to follow the correct manual handling procedure when using a hoist. These workers are not trained adequately, they are not paid adequately, they are not screened adequately, they are not supervised adequately – is it any wonder they are cheaper?
Homecare is a critically important service it should not be sold off at public auction to the cheapest bidder. The Council should be able to manage its own in house service properly; it is your best chance of providing a service to be proud of. In matters of the protection of vulnerable adults, when things go wrong the Council is blamed for its failure to monitor and oversee contracts properly and a multi-agency approach is blamed for failure to communicate properly. When things go wrong people die.
We already have 50% of the service in the private agencies – why can’t we keep 50% in house?
The Officers of the Council admit that the private agencies are overcharging them by at least £800,000 per year.
Part of my role as a Council Homecare is to provide a link between the Adult and Community Care directorate and the service user. If we are farmed out this link will be lost forever and our service users left vulnerable. Strong communication is vital to protect vulnerable adults. In house Homecare provides a lifeline to service users, if they are worried about anything they talk to us and they confide in us and they do that because we are part of the Council and they know that we act on things. The bottom line is that people don’t trust the private sector because they know they are in it for profit. It is just plain wrong for the Council to put cost cutting before the care of Bristol’s most vulnerable people.
You are at your last Council meeting of the year, no doubt thinking about the upcoming local elections. We are thinking about the upcoming local elections too and we will not go away. We will fight for our jobs and our service users. Any one of you who sits quietly and does not speak out against this wrong-headed privatisation is as guilty as the cabinet and the senior officers of Adult Community Care.
Please support Bristol City Council’s Homecare Assistants; please stand up for older and vulnerable people in our City.
Tuesday, 27 March 2007
Alun Beynon on behalf of the Transport and General Workers Union
This new report is even more of a shambles than the last. We have moved from vagueness about TUPE and firmness about savings; to vagueness about savings and firmness about TUPE ++. However, the Cabinet remains in an untenable position. Given half decent management, the price of an hour of Homecare is dependent upon labour costs. Therefore it is disingenuous to argue that you can protect terms and conditions, including those of new staff, while promising savings which will be spent on more care.
The Homecare workers know that transfer to the private sector would put them in a perilous position. TUPE ++ offers no guarantee of security and when the Council no longer directly employs staff it carries no liability either for making sure TUPE++ prevails or for equal pay. The likelihood is that, if transferred, these loyal women workers, will either be driven out of their jobs or suffer detrimental changes to their pay and conditions.
The independent sector is full of bad employers. The Council’s own research has established that all those aspects of terms and conditions of employment which mark out a bad employer from a good one, are prevalent within this group. Poor pay, no sick pay, holidays fixed at the statutory minimum, no travelling time between service users, no pensions and minimal training. The contrast with the Council’s terms and conditions is stark and illuminating.
However, it’s not too late for the Cabinet to see sense and to acknowledge that the way forward for any socially responsible politician will be to engage with their employees and their representative trade unions. At long last, the Homecare Business Unit is now well managed but years of incompetence will take time to put right. We are making real progress with improvements. In good faith, hundreds of Homecare Assistants have changed their hours of work and modernised their work practises. This management are trying to regain the confidence of employees who have lost trust in the Council, because for many years they were treated an inconvenient burden rather than as dedicated Care professionals. It is vital that trust is rebuilt and, provided this report is rejected, the trade unions will commit themselves to working with the management to ensure that high quality, cost effective care becomes a hallmark of the trust between Bristol City Council and its in-house provision.