A couple of weeks ago the diary of a home care workershone a light on highs and frankly far too many lows that care workers all around the country face, day in, day out.
When we have all heard too many shocking stories of neglectful, malicious, taunting “carers” which now dominate perceptions of social care, this is the antidote. It was been truly inspiring to read the dedication, compassion, and genuine care motivating this fantastic woman.
But it is also deeply depressing to see set out in black and white the myriad of challenges and hurdles which make up her working day. The financial pressure to make ends meet; 15 plus hour days; 15 days without a day off; unpaid travelling time; unpaid overtime just to get the job done; no lunch break – and generally no breaks at all; constant rushing; constant guilt – whether over clients craving more time than can be given or over her family who she barely manages to see; and frequently dealing with an employer who seems only concerned with fitting in as many people as possible to her ever longer days, each allocated less time than the last.
More depressing still is the impact on her clients – overwhelmingly lonely, isolated, desperate for human contact and a little unhurried kindness – and at times almost all short-changed as a result of the impossibility of fitting everyone in to one very long working day.
Something has got to give.
With the impact of demographic change becoming increasingly apparent, we are become a much older society, the number of people requiring care is rapidly rising. We desperately need capable, compassionate and caring people willing to help and support people to live with dignity in their own homes.
The Care Certificate being brought in next year is an important step in standardising training and recognising the skill and value involved in care work, but we need to do more to make caring a genuinely attractive profession and to recruit and keep the right people.
I am working with the LGiU and others in the sector to explore how we can achieve the home care workforce that we all deserve. I hope you will share your thoughts.
* Paul Burstow is Liberal Democrat MP for Sutton and Cheam and Chairman of the CentreForum Mental Health Commission.
This post was originally published at Liberal Democrat Voice.
The Commission on the Future of the Home Care Workforce is supported by Mears Group