The use of private home care agencies using zero hours contracts and minimum levels of pay hit the headlines last week. By not paying travel time some employers pay less than the minimum wage. This is not the case at Headway where we offer guaranteed salaries, proper contracts of employment and pensions …. but we have to compete with some agencies who short change their staff.
As a society we continue to under value the work of home care. I used to ask at conferences if anyone could explain why if my house needs its plumbing sorted I pay £50 per hour, but if my gran needs assistance with her waterworks I pay £10 per hour. Sorry for the undignified comment, my gran was incontinent in her later life but it was a way of asking why we pay skilled staff providing intimate care such low wages.
One part of the problem is the response of local authorities to the massive cuts in social care budgets. Spot purchasing and lowest price wins brokerage has driven down prices. Block contracts or reliable demand for services allowed organisations to plan ahead and invest in staff.
Is the tide turning?? The NHS are starting to realise the vital role of social care. Social care can be the solution to healthcare issues, whether these are to do with discharge from hospital or with ways to prevent people ending up at the GP or A& E service. Even government minister Eric Pickles seems to have got the message with a £5billion pledge to increase health and social care funding at home. Thanks Eric I hope you deliver on this promise and an apology for short changing the many vulnerable people who have suffered over the last 4 years would also be welcome.