Privatisation has driven down homecare standards
UNISON, the UK’s largest union, said today that a toxic combination of funding cuts and privatisation have driven down standards in homecare, leaving elderly people without the help and support they need.
Commenting on a report by consumer magazine ‘Which’, describing standards of homecare services as “disgraceful”, the union is warning that without government action, things will only get worse.
84% of homecare services are now run by private companies. Government cuts have led to councils cutting the cost of contracts, pay has fallen and training is many cases is near to non-existent.
Heather Wakefield, UNISON Head of Local Government said:
”Homecare services should provide elderly people with the help and support they need to carry on living with dignity in their own homes. This is the preferred option for many people and cheaper than residential care.
“The Coalition Government has inflicted drastic cuts on local authorities with the result that elderly people are suffering. Cash strapped councils are selling off 15 minute care slots to the lowest bidder. Is it any wonder that care workers tell us they don’t have the time they need to care for elderly people properly?
“Care workers have seen their pay cut and are all too often living on the minimum wage and yet they still get no pay for traveling between appointments. The bar to accessing local authority care is getting higher, but many homecare workers do not get training. The elderly people they visit will be very frail, needing medication and some suffer from debilitating conditions such as dementia and Alzheimer’s. Proper training is essential to give the level of care needed.
“It is time for the Government to face up to their responsibilities and ensure that councils get the funding they need to deliver high quality care to our elderly.”