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Home carers 'exploited', says Unison


Elderly people are not receiving the care they need because private home carers are “exploited” by their employers and given inadequate training, according to a trade union.

Staff were effectively paid below the minimum wage due to “zero hours” contracts, which have huge swings in paid hours, and the fact many employers will not pay for travel time between visits, said Unison.

It said homecare workers need better training and working conditions, and claimed many workers were not shown how to administer medicines or given other basic training.

The union, which is holding its national conference in Bournemouth this week, said some employers made their staff pay for their transport, uniforms and mobile phones.

General secretary Dave Prentis said: “It is a scandal that private homecare companies are boosting profits for themselves, but short-changing elderly people and staff.

“They are cutting corners by scrimping and saving on what they pay their staff. This has a huge knock on effect on elderly people relying on care to live independent lives in their own homes.”


Readers' comments (20)

  • I think that is absolutely correct. There is a sickening race to the bottom in the social care field which is probably going to get worse with the personalisation agenda. They have problems retaining staff and in staff actually turning up and doing their job. I think this reflects how badly these employers treat them in the first place.

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  • I agree with the coments above, I cannot believe that carers are given no travelling time to get from patient to patient and therefore have to cut down on the allocated time they give their patients to ensure they are not too late for the next patient.

    Let us hope that the unions can change this ridiculous practice and ensure our house bound patients get the full care they deserve and at the end of the day are paying for.

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  • As a trainer I cringe when I hear of the limited training given to most Dom Care workers. National Minimum standards seems to mean what is the least we can do and get away with it! I know of Dom care staff who effectively put in 10 hour days but only get paid for 7 or 8 hours due to the distances between clients and the fact that there is no travelling time. One DEom Care agency I know of pays 5 minutes travelling time - how generous!

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  • Agreed. But how do we up the ante in this sector?

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  • yes and try talking to social services about training there staff they lie through there teeth my mother has dementia when asked if staff have training they say yes but talk to staff and they dont have even basic understanding of the condition i dont know or where they get this trainng but its inadequate
    there understanding of nutrition is zilch biscuits for breakfast or if my mum says no they dont leave anything despite me saying just leave it 9 times out of ten my mum will eat do they understand ?do they leave out ?NO
    these are supposed to be carers what part of this is caring? i also imput into my mothers care on a daily basis as does another family member if we didnt help god knows what would happen to our mother

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  • Carers in private care homes are also exploited and undertrained. I work in a 3* home but the training is awful, e.g. new staff aren't given any information about dementia and so have no idea what it is, how to care for the person effectively, how to persuade them to have a wash, etc. We have to stay after our shift to do care plans and daily reports and don't get paid for it. This demotivates staff, making them miserable and they lose interest in their job. This has a knock on effect on the people we're there to care for.
    I've been told that home caring is far worse than care homes from people who've done both and its so sad that so many elderly people have to put up with such inadaquate care.

    Its not that carers don't care, its that they aren't trained properly so they don't know how to care.

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  • I work in the private care sector and am involved heavily in training, Our staff do an annual MH update, Yearly first aid update. Medication training and we do specialised training as required Epilepsy/Autism to name some and look to do annual updates . The charge out rate varies but it is no where near what the public sector costs out packages at. I know this has article has grounds but please not every company falls into these categories

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  • It is very much concerned that i have observed that staff working in home care or nursing homes are not provided with training and information about the trainings. Even some of the agencies and nursing homes are asking to pay for the trainings and some do not consider them to be on study days when the staff want to go for training some where else to develop. One of the PCT asked we can only send you for study days if it benefit for the team only.

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  • I have been on both sides of the fence with regards to care, I was a carer for 15 years and I'm now a manager of a care agency, I agree that training isn't always up to scratch but I feel its unfair to blame it on the employers as recently I organised some medication training for 20 staff and only 6 turned up, we now have to charge the staff in order to ensure they come to all training, often the councils don't offer any assistance with training which I think they should for all mandatory courses.
    As for pay I earned minimum wage as a carer and I feel in a nursing home the carers do deserve to earn more pay, our home carers get paid all travel and also more by the hour too, but we have to watch what we spend due to the price the council will pay for care, I think if anyone is to blame start at the very top and work down, in all aspects of care its a bidding war these days and we will probably see it on Ebay very soon.

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  • As a care worker in West Sussex, i would like you to know the truth about my company. I will not name them, but they are a charity(!) We get no traveling pay, sometimes no time, and occasionally we are asked to start a job five or ten minutes before we finish the previous job! We are payed less than £0.30p per mile travelled. We are also expected, when quiet, to have layovers of up to two hours unpaid! Is it surprising that staff leaving is so common, and that staff quality is poor? My company does not recognise the Unions prefering a "staff association",which it can ignore at will....How can we change things with this approach?

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