Care workers are now too rushed to help vulnerable people with essential tasks

Amid cuts and growing workloads, Britain's overstretched care workers are unable to do their jobs properly. It's the most vulnerable who lose out.

Some of the most vulnerable and disabled people in the UK are going without a wash, proper meals and trips to the toilet because care workers are too rushed to do their job properly, according to a report published today by UNISON.

The survey of care workers, Making Visits Matter, shows there is an ‘ongoing crisis’ in the UK’s care system – with three in five (63%) respondents getting just 15 minutes to help with personal tasks such as eating and drinking, or taking a shower.

Councils have cut back on social care in the face of swingeing cuts to local authority budgets. According to Age UK, local authority spending on social care for older adults has dropped by £1.57 billion in just six years, while the Care Quality Commission report that 81% of councils slashed their spending on adult social care between 2010 and 2016.

These latest findings are based on a survey of 1,000 home care workers across the UK looking after people in need, including those suffering from dementia, strokes, Parkinson’s, or with learning disabilities.

They come as the government announced today they have again suspended enforcing the minimum wage in the social care sector, after a tribunal ruled that sleep-in care workers are entitled to be paid for all time spent at the job.

Amid cuts and increasing workloads however, three-quarters (75%) of care workers responding to the UNISON survey said they ended up compromising the dignity of those they care for because they are too rushed – often because employers pressure them to fit in an excessive number of visits.

The findings are particularly worrying given the loneliness epidemic among many older people: the majority (89%) of home care workers do not have time for a short chat, even though the person they look after may not see anyone else that day.

The report also highlights the job insecurity faced by home care workers with more than half (52%) on zero hours contracts, and more than three in five (63%) not getting paid for the time it takes to travel between care visits.

Home care companies are issuing payslips that staff find hard to understand, says UNISON. This practice lets companies mask the fact that they are failing to pay the minimum wage, and stops workers receiving the money they are rightfully owed.

UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said:

“Care workers and those they look after are suffering because standards are routinely being breached.

“Care staff try to do their best within a system that increasingly prioritises quotas over compassion. Elderly and disabled people are ending up lonely, without dignity and with their care needs unmet.

“Care workers and the vulnerable people they look after will continue to be failed by a flawed system unless the government acts.”

The union is calling on the government to take meaningful enforcement action against care companies failing to pay the minimum wage, and wants ministers to use powers under the National Minimum Wage Act to make employers print pay calculations on wage slips – enabling staff to determine if they are receiving a legal wage.

With little end in sight for the social care squeeze, this situation risks spiralling. Will the government take notice?

Josiah Mortimer is Editor of Left Foot Forward. Follow him on Twitter

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One Response to “Care workers are now too rushed to help vulnerable people with essential tasks”

  1. Keren moser

    I don’t agree with some stuff on here the problem isn’t we 9nly get 15 mins sometimes or the workload it’s the traffic thet stresses me out sometimes to the point if tears of frustration it’s not overheads or the petrol I don’t get paid for its the time lost to traffic. my time unpaid for time I could be having some sort of life with being with my children or just not working. I live in hove Brighton and it can take 45 mins to go along some roads witch are 3 miles long. A normal saterday for me is 6am till maybe 11pm i never ever gave finished on time i dont skimp time ever so im always running late i might get a 2 hour break but take off half hoir home if im lucky the leave half hour early to start again isnt worth the stress petrol or time as cant do anything when home just rush about gettung more stressed and then to top it off i get paid for half the 17 hours im actually out my home for. Never the work or how many calls I have stress me out I adore my job but this travel traffic issue is winning the war with me it’s to much. Company’s need to remember just cos we drive don’t mean we can be yoyos or we LUCKYso we can go further it means we can do a little extra work more calls that are despretly needed. And if they stop 0% contracts I’m deffo out we get paid only when we are in a call if I wanna earn extra I do a little extra work I get paid for every bit of work I do contracts mean u get paid the same each week regardless pluss it’s no motivation to help a extra shift cos the won’t earn extra and a contract don’t garentee a job anyways and face it care us never ever going to not be needed is it it’s not gunna dry up as the weather ect changes. Now the o hours contract of phone sales people ect deffo needs stopping they don’t have any campaigns you don’t work till they do have some so their stuck waiting how they pay their bills and live. Carers should be paid the whole per hour pay not just the call pay it’s a joke. You do 3 hours you get paid 3 hours you do 10 you get paid 10 that will stop them sending us to calls so far apart too. I’m totally at the end of all I can take with the time lost and traffic problem I’m pulling my hair out.

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