Care workers ‘too rushed’ to help vulnerable people wash, eat or visit the toilet

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

Vulnerable and disabled people 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 (Friday) by UNISON.

The report Making Visits Matter highlights the 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.

The 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.

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 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, according to the survey.

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.”

Download Making visits matter report

Notes to editors:
– The survey was carried out between February and April 2017 and included home care workers employed by local authorities and by private companies. The full survey is available here: Home care survey
– Local authorities reduced spending per adult on social care by 11% between 2009/10 to 2015/16, according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies.
– Case studies of home care workers are available on request.
– UNISON is calling on the government to take meaningful enforcement action against care companies failing to pay the minimum wage. It also 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.

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