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Friday, 9 September 2011

Caring is a Civic Duty - and other nuggets

Ive been asked to post a couple of letters which have appeared in the local press and comments on websites so that you all can see them in one place, so here goes:

Caring is a civic duty, not about making a profit

COUNCILLOR Rogers is once again in your newspaper putting forward his statistics to make a case for closing our Homecare service. He conjures up from nowhere "hundreds" of people who he says support his arguments. Firstly, that care from the private sector is equal to the in-house council care service.

Consider the profile of a private sector carer. I have much personal experience and up-to-date knowledge from indisputable sources.  The private sector carer works for an employer who is in the business of caring to make a profit. This is the nub of their problem. The employer must take on the cheapest labour they can find. They must get in and out of their clients' home as quickly as to get on to the next one and the next one.  The cheapest labour available at present is young women from ethnic backgrounds. The problem this causes is that many cannot communicate fully with elderly people who often have difficulty making themselves understood in normal circumstances. This lack of communication contributes highly to an inferior service.

There is a very high turnover of private sector carers. It is an arduous job and can be very upsetting for a young woman learning as she goes along (often the case). Some of the tasks call for a strong stomach and the carer leaves.  The high turnover impacts severely on the client who depends heavily on continuity, the same faces turning up day after day and understanding what is being said to them.

Compare the above with the profile of a council in-house carer. Mature women in the main with an average age of 45 to 50 years. Many have been caring for the elderly for 20 to 30 years.  They have a reliable back-up service, continuity of call patterns, know each and every one of their clients well, never rush their calls and always try to leave their clients feeling wanted and serene. Nothing fazes them. They have experienced just about everything that could possibly happen. They provide a vastly superior service.

The council-run service is a 24- hour, seven-days-a-week service provided by the "caring at home teams" and the all-night "out of hours" teams. The private sector cannot match this.

Now to come to Cllr Rogers' other main contention. The cost of care. What the councillor fails to disclose is that taken from the Homecare budget is a healthy slice of money to cover all other council overheads, thus pushing up the cost per hour for carers. These overheads include the salaries and expenses paid to executives and pay for councillors such as you, Cllr Roger.  It also includes, of course, huge payments made to so-called "consultants" called in to advise on 'crazy' schemes thought up by the council.

The private sector is not saddled with such costs. Often they have an office and one or two admin staff. In some cases, they work nine to five and perhaps a Saturday morning. They have no overnight cover.  If an emergency arises when their office is shut, for example on a Sunday evening, no one can be contacted until Monday morning. There is no comparison between the different levels of service provided.

Caring is a civic duty, Cllr Rogers, it is not about making a profit. The two are not compatible. When will you get that message?  When will you get the message that you get what you pay for? The cheapest option, where care for the vulnerable is concerned, creates low standards and shoddy performance.  The carers and those that need caring for have had enough of you.

Mr R Taylor
Sole Carer


I AM a Homecare assistant of many, many years' experience. I am feeling very depressed and let down at the prospect of losing the job I have carried out loyally, with my clients' best interests at heart, on every call I make.

When the threat of closure of Homecare originally came about carers were told to keep quiet about it. Not to tell their clients about it or the media. I wonder why?  It is only now in recent weeks that the union has stepped in. The wool was being pulled over their eyes too by the council.

Now we are campaigning again, just as we did four years ago, this time with only half the workforce as the council split Homecare into two parts and created a group called "star" who do a necessary job for about six weeks with patients newly discharged from hospital setting up a care needs plan so that these patients can then be passed on to the continuing care at home council team.

But what in fact was happening was that the council deceitfully arranged for these new clients to be passed to the private sector. Their reason was to deplete the work for the care at home team.
What the council is doing is wrong. They are trying to deploy carers into jobs we don't want, for example join the "star" team where just a few vacancies still exist or work in a care home or day care centre as such jobs become available.

They are reluctant to offer redundancy. They say they haven't got the money. I love my job. I have been dedicated for years. The best years of my life. I thought I would be looking after my people and many other people with similar needs until I retired. This is what I am good at. This is what I want to do.  Now I face an uncertain future due to a council that don't care a jot for the likes of me, devalue me and leave my life in tatters. They have no shame.


LIB DEM VOTERS VIEW.  AJT77 writes: As a Liberal Democrat member I am appalled by their action on this. Homecare privatisation has been a disaster in Bath and North East Somerset with profit being put before care. I feel upset and let down by my party and salute the Labour Party and the Greens for trying to stop this.”

PRIVATE AGENCY CARERS' VIEW  Pimmilini writes:  Its funny how so many people judge private home care companies when we actually provide a very high standard of care, spend the full amount of time required with every service user and work for a far lower wage than Bristol City Council. The team I work with are all dedicated to their roles as carers and do a fantastic job. People only read the negative things about companies who have let the care industry down and do not look into the positive feedback from service users and family members.

What really makes me sick is the fact that all the day and respite centres are in line for closure but we can afford 2 million pound for a bendy bus, what is that all about!  These vulnerable adults are being let down and will soon have no where to go and socialise many of whom have served this country.  I think we need to look at all this from their point of view not from a money making scheme which is what the Bristol City Council are doing. If their staff were not over paid and didn't have half the perks they did then maybe they wouldn't have overspent on their budget.
Mrs T (lw)”

IN RESPONSE A VIEW ABOUT DECENT CAREWORK  Bristol62 writes: Mrs T - its not funny.  Your team, I have no doubt, are marvellous.  Two days ago the Bedminster job centre were advertising a full time homecare job for £100 a week FACT!  The Association of Directors of Adult Social have today described the system in place for providing adult social care as 'bust' FACT!  Four days ago the UK Homecare Association said they had big safety concerns for service users and homecare workers FACT!  Adult social care is in a massive mess across the country.  Homecare, as a solution for looking after older vulnerable people, is coming under more and more pressure because care homes are being closed FACT!  Three quarters of all Homecare workers in the private sector in the UK have NO guaranteed hours of work FACT!

None of this is happening because of Council employed homecare workers.  They are NOT OVERPAID, they are paid £7.11 basic per hour and they get an enhancement for weekend working.  This is in line with what decent private sector providers pay.  They deal with the most intimate aspects of people's lives and bodies as they struggle at the end of their lives - and soldier on just like your team does no doubt. However, right now, is the time Bristol Council is choosing to get rid of it all of its Homecare Service.  You express concern about money spent on bendy buses.  I suggest now is not the time for Homecare workers to start picking a fight with each other but to wake up and realise that Homecare workers are being treated very badly.  Decent homecare providers, whether Council run or private, are facing competition from poor homecare providers.  In a race to the bottom, the system of regulation has been watered down by sucessive governments.  Last week, members of the UK Care Homes Association decided they no longer had confidence in the Care Quality Commission.  The Royal College of Nurses are currently surveying their members about similar concerns.

Treating care workers badly does the service users no favours whatsoever.  I am grateful that you and your team provide such a tremendous service to our City.  Thank you.

LABOUR PARTY SUPPORTER VIEW.  TurnBristolRed Writes: Whilst much of homecare is carried out in the private sector 50% of it is low level unskilled work such as shopping, taking bins out and doing clothes washing.  The inhouse care is the very skilled highly sensitive work such as changing catheters.

At first glance the unit costs of in house homecare is higher than private BUT NOT when you take into account there are homecarers who are being paid but deliberately under used. This is the reality and the lesson the Labour Party has learned and this is why we support the BCC in house homecare team

If u take just 2 minutes to read paragraphs 4 & 5 on this link

you'll see how bad this under use is and how it is seemingly deliberate.  In my opinion Jon Rogers knows how to bring down the unit cost of in house homecare (use 6,500 hours a week of it) he just won't for ideological reasons. Playing politics with peoples care is a lousy thing to do.

IN RESPONSE PRIVATE AGENCY CARER VIEW 'Guest' writes: That's absolute rubbish!!  I have been working as a Home Care Assistant for a private company for the last three years.  Myself and every single one of my collegues at work also provide quality care to the most vulnerable members of our society. We ensure that the people we care for have taken vital medication, we assist them to get up in the morning, wash and dress, ensure they eat a nutritious meal. We change catheters and colostomy bags, dress bedsores (we HAVE received appropriate training to do so) and we act as an advocate for the individuals we care for, liaising with the benefits centre and other organisations to help them access and secure extra services .We always look out for their well-being, working with an holistic approach always. WE CARE TOO!

PRIVATE AGENCY CARE HANDOVER VIEW Guest(2) writes: I can't believe that Dr John Rogers thinks that quality services at reasonable prices can be obtained by letting private companies take over all care. I work for a private agency, they get away with whatever they like, they use the most vulnerable members of society as a money making commodity!

This evening, I visited a client who we had only just started to provide care for today. He has just lost his Council Home Care Assistant after many years. I am not a manager or supervisor, just a 'regular' care assistant. I am the first to visit him.

There was no 'handover', no care plan in place that I could read to establish his needs, my manager could tell me nothing about him other than his address. He is lost, depressed and quite frankly bewildered about what is going on.  When I called my manager to express my concerns about the absence of a care plan, risk assessment or indeed any information about him, I was told "You're an experienced carer, I'm sure you'll figure it out".....


1 comment:

  1. Private agencies I believe do not pay their employees travel time or lost time when there client is in hospital, thus making their working day longer to achieve the hours they need to live on. when someone is working in a bar or shop do they only get paid for the time they are serving someone. No they get paid for the whole time they are on duty. This makes the council more expensive as we are paid a wage, but is this fair on agency workers to work so hard for little reward.