Care workers need time to care, conference hears

Local government delegates vowed to fight for decent home care for the elderly and vulnerable, when they debated the union’s new Ethical Care Charter this afternoon.

Introducing the successful motion, Jackie Lewis of the national LGBT committee reminded delegates that in a presentation on the charter, assistant national officer Matthew Egan had likened the zero hours contracts many care workers are on to “going down to the docks and hoping for work”.

This was bad for care workers and bad for those receiving care.

Ms Lewis demanded “an end to care by the minute; an end to care by the pound; and end to zero hours contracts”.

The charter itself lays out minimum standards for home care and the workers who provide it, though as West Midlands delegate Sue Brierley noted, “we shouldn’t have to be asking for this, we should be expecting it”.

In an illustration of how much the charter is needed, Joan Pritchard Jones of Bolton recalled that when she started working as a home care worker for the local council in 1986, “every client had a two hour visit, which gave us time to shop, clean, provide personal care – and talk and listen.”

But all that changed when care workers started to hear three words – “demographic time bomb” – and the idea that care for the elderly was too expensive and needed to be privatised to cut costs.

“But it’s not about affordability, it’s about choices,” said Ms Brierley: “Privatisation of home care has not saved taxpayers a penny.”

And, she concluded:, “we should be celebrating people living longer, not telling them what a burden they are.”


Ethical Care Charter