Paul Burstow writes … How can we achieve the home care workforce that we all deserve?

Care in the home Some rights reserved by British Red CrossA couple of weeks ago the diary of a home care worker shone 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 candidate for Sutton and Cheam and was the MP until the dissolution of Parliament on 30th March.

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  • Radical Liberal 27th May '14 - 1:43pm

    You should be publicly opposing Clegg and calling for his resignation. Get your priorities sorted.

  • This a bit like 1940, just after the heavy defeat at Dunkirk raising the issue of potholes in the road at Carlisle!!!!!
    Priorities man.

  • “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.”

    It might involve paying more than the minimum wage.

  • Richard Dean 27th May '14 - 2:19pm

    I agree with Paul that this topic is of great importance. LibDems need to get over their disappointment and start working for the electorate again – that is, if they really care, and if really prefer recovering to scapegoating.

  • Ed Shepherd 27th May '14 - 5:26pm

    Money is the main solution. Pay care workers better. Give them pension schemes (not just contributions to a PP at best) and other benefits. Make it a job that has status and commands respect. Give it a clear career structure. I am not sure how this can be achieved and where the money will come from, though.

  • I really, really, really hope that @Radical Liberal is joking. It’s good to see an article reminding us that we are still in government, tackling real issues, making a difference and putting a liberal stamp on government policy. I like seeing hard working MPs working hard as MPs. There’s a real world out there and it’s more concerned with issues like this than with the indulgent introspection of party leadership speculation.

    And the question posed is a difficult one. As @Ed Shepherd notes, doing the right thing is expensive and it is by no means clear where the money would come from. I’m afraid I have no solution either. So if all those currently putting their energies into plotting and venting could divert them to trying to find solutions to issues like this, I would be most grateful.

  • You were the minister for two years why didn’t you tackle the issues then?

    This is a good example of why voters are losing faith in politicians.

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