Home care in Scotland ‘at breaking point’ warns UNISON

Written by Tom Freeman on 17 August 2016 in News

Home care workers believe emphasis is on quantity over quality when it comes to appointments in people's homes

Elderly care - credit Daniel Karmann/DPA/Press Association Images

Care provided to vulnerable people in their own homes is suffering as a result of cuts, according to a new report by the trade union UNISON.

The report ‘We care, do you?’ is based on a freedom of information request to all local authorities in Scotland and a survey of home care workers.

Four in five home care workers believe the emphasis is now on quantity over quality, according to the report, with time for care visits being eaten up by travel time.


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Over a quarter said they were not paid for travel time between visits.

Councils said 15 minute care visits were only for the most basic needs, but workers reported scheduling didn’t allow for longer visits.

UNISON Scotland’s deputy convener Stephen Smellie said the workforce were “stretched to the limit”, damaging their own health.

“The most vulnerable people in our society rely on the services our home carers provide. They deserve better, much better – and so do care workers,” he said.

“This should include a decent, and reliable, wage for the work they do, with proper facilities and a workload which allows them to do their job properly. They care for us, it is only right that we in turn care for them.”

The majority of care is carried out by private contractors. Although most councils pay the living wage, they do not guarantee their contractors do.

Twenty four of 31 councils said they used a mixture of in-house and contracted-out staff, with 91 per cent services contracted out in West Lothian and as little as 10 per cent in West Dunbartonshire.

The Scottish Government’s 2020 vision for health and social care is to have more people treated at home or in a ‘homely setting’, facilitated by new integrated partnerships between health boards and councils.

This would include the implementation of the living wage to all frontline staff.

However, all councils who responded to a question from UNISON said they did not take advantage of new rules which allow the mandating of the living wage when procuring care contracts.


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