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15-minute care visits are an affront to decency

7 October 2013

  • Care staff earn less than £1.50 for each 15-minute care visit
  •  Each visit earns less than a cup of coffee as private care firms and councils cut costs
  •  Such social care cutbacks are an affront to decent standards of care
  •  Social Care crisis is deepening

 15-minute care visits are putting patients and careworkers in an impossible position:  The Leonard Cheshire charity report (see link here http://www.lcdisability.org/?lid=8843 ) highlights the degrading impact of 15-minute social care visits on lonely, frail elderly people.  But the social care crisis is not just impacting those on the receiving end of such ‘care’.  The private sector careworkers are themselves being put in an almost impossible position.

Staff paid less than a cup of coffee!  A careworker earning £10 an hour will often earn just over £1 for each 15-minute visit.  Those dedicated social care staff in the private sector, who are employed on or near minimum wages, with zero hours contracts, are being expected to try to cope with such unreasonable demands, without even earning enough for a cup of coffee.  Is this really what Britain believes is appropriate?

Low wage work will pay £2-00-£2-50 per visit:  How can this be?  Care staff are often paid only the minimum wage, but let’s assume a careworker is paid £10 an hour.  They will be paid £2-50 for a 15-minute visit – perhaps to get a client out of bed, washed, on the toilet and into a chair.  However, most of these dedicated workers are not paid for their travel time and not even reimbursed for the cost of their travel.  So, if they make four 15 minute visits, they do not actually earn £10 for an hour of work.

Not paid for travel time so they earn less than £1.50 for each visit:  For example, if it takes ten minutes to go from one house to another, they will have spent one hour and 40 minutes of time for the four 15-minute appointments, but will receive just £10.  That works out at £6 per hour – or just £1.50 each visit.

Not reimbursed for travel costs either:  But if they are travelling by car, they must also pay their own petrol and motoring costs.  That means much less than £1.50 a time.

Puts those in need and those trying to help them in almost impossible situation:  So, 15-minute visits are not only putting the person needing care at risk of being poorly served, the staff trying to cope with this penny-pinching system are being expected to cope in almost impossible conditions too.

Pitiful choices for pitiful pay:  This is another wake-up call highlighting the extent of the crisis in our social care system.  For an older housebound member of society to be forced to choose whether to go thirsty or go to the toilet is a hallmark of failure.  To put dedicated staff in a position where they have to cope with such choices too, for pitiful pay, is an affront to decency.

Careworkers need better working conditions:  We need to properly address the inadequacies of leaving social care to cash-strapped councils, instead of promoting proper standards, we will be failing millions of the most needy members of society.

Social care is vital just as healthcare is:  Social care should be valued as the vital service that it is.  Healthcare is funded far better.  It is time for us all to wake up to these challenges.

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