Sleeping in, losing out.

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2020 Community Conference and Seminar
16 October 2019

Conference notes with concern the UNISON report published in June 2019 Sleeping in, losing out which presents a shocking picture of �sleep-in� conditions, with staff abused physically and verbally including being punched and threatened with knives. The report also made clear that some care staff on overnight shifts are being forced to use dirty mattresses and are left without any washing facilities. This issue is of particular pertinence to the Community Service Group because many care staff work in the third sector.

The findings of the report come from a survey of more than 3,000 UNISON members UK-wide caring for the vulnerable and elderly by staying overnight, including in residential homes, in the accommodation of those living independently, or at the properties of those receiving home support.

Sleeping in, losing out highlights how more than one in ten respondents said their sleeping facilities were unsuitable where they worked. Some had to make do with make-shift beds in staff offices, with ripped mattresses, and 2% had nowhere to sleep at all. Others reported there was no bathroom to wash or shower in despite having to work another shift the next day, and lack of privacy was an issue too. The report shows that 72% of respondents were so busy they only got a couple of hours sleep a night, with 72% left feeling exhausted.

The duties staff assume responsibility for overnight include calming people with learning disabilities or mental health issues when distressed, assisting vulnerable people to go to the toilet and giving medication. 41% reported feeling bad for not being there at night when their families need them. The same percentage has missed out on family events because of having to sleep away from home.

Nearly a third who responded to the survey had experienced personal threats or even been attacked. Some had been bitten, punched, kicked, spat at, had people try to strangle them, been threatened with knives, and boiling water.

Conference therefore calls on the Community Service Group Executive to:

1. Work with UNISON Labour Link, NEC and other stakeholders including lobbying political parties in positions of power and influence in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland to highlight the particular problem of unsafe, unclean and inadequate conditions for people carrying out overnight sleep-in shifts.

2. Where we have recognition, ensure UNISON negotiates with Community employers to ensure conditions for overnight sleep-in shifts are clean and safe.

3. Continue to campaign for a care sector which is adequately funded, helping to ensure care staff no longer have to experience the kind of shocking conditions outlined in the �Sleeping-in, losing out� report.