UNISON challenges councils to embrace Ethical Care Charter

UNISON, the UK‚s largest union, is challenging councils and providers across the UK to embrace its new Ethical Care Charter, pledging to improve home care for the people who receive it, and the workers who provide it.

The Charter is a direct response to a recent report from the union that revealed widespread fear from homecare workers that short visit times and high staff turnover mean the care they are able to give falls far short of clients‚ needs for safety, dignity and an ongoing relationship with their care worker.

The main objective of the Charter is to establish a minimum baseline for the safety, quality and dignity of home care. The Charter urges councils ˆ from the commissioning stage onwards to ensure employment conditions allow home care providers to give their clients the best care possible.

UNISON national officer Helga Pile said:

“Our report highlights the very real crisis in our home care system, but by signing up to our Ethical Care Charter, Councils and other providers will have the opportunity to prove they are committed to confronting and solving it.

“It is an outrage that the dedication of hard working home care workers should be exploited to prop up a failing system; these workers look after the most vulnerable in our society, and the value of the work they do should be recognised.

“The measures contained in the Charter aren‚t rocket science; the Charter simply recognises the huge importance of home care to those that receive it, and establishes a baseline for safety, quality and dignity of care for clients, and an environment in which the professionals who provide this care can work safely, efficiently and fairly.

“Signing up to the Charter must just be the beginning of the story: it will take real commitment, time and investment from councils, providers and ultimately Government to ensure that this vital, valuable service is the best possible quality for the elderly and vulnerable people for whom it can, quite literally, be a lifeline.”

By signing up to the Charter, and becoming Ethical Care Councils, authorities pledge to only commission care from providers who:

– Give workers the freedom to provide appropriate care and be given the time to talk to their clients.

– Allocate clients the same homecare worker(s) wherever possible.

– Match the time allocated to visits to the particular needs of the client. In general, 15-minute visits will not be used as they undermine the dignity of the clients.

– Pay homecare workers for their travel time, their travel costs and other necessary expenses such as mobile phone use.

Schedule visits so that homecare workers are not forced to rush their time with clients or leave their clients early to get to the next one on time.

The UNISON report – „Time to Care‚ – highlighted a Œcrisis in home care‚ that the union described as an outrage. Responses revealed:

– 79.1% of respondents reported that their work schedule is arranged in such a way that they either have to rush their work or leave a client early to get to their next visit on time.

– 57.8% of respondents were not paid for their travelling time between visits, which results in many being paid below the national minimum wage.

– 41.1% are not given specialist training to deal with their clients‚ specific medical needs, such as dementia and stroke related conditions.

– Only 43.7% of respondents see fellow homecare workers on a daily basis at work. This isolation is not good for morale and impacts on the ability to learn and develop in the role.