‘Betrayal of our elderly’, ‘Crisis looms as elderly see different carer every week’ – just some of the shocking headlines that dominate today’s national news media following the publication of a new report into the home care sector.
The Burstow Commission ‘Key to Care’ report follows an investigation chaired by Paul Burstow MP, former minister for care, into the working conditions of the UK’s 685,000-strong home care workforce.
Published by thinktank LGiU, its findings are not pretty. It concludes that if home care in the UK is not yet in crisis, it soon will be – as a result of downward pressure on the cost of care and a workforce that is devalued by employers. It talks of carers dashing to deliver ‘care’ in 10-minute slots, of old people seeing 50 different carers in a year.
We refuse to take on contracts that specify 15-minute slots of care – for us, proper care can’t typically be delivered in less than an hour and that is the minimum we provide.
We respect and value our frontline staff, who enjoy above average terms and conditions and specialist training – for example, in looking after people with Alzheimer’s. Most of all, we give them the time to care and to build lasting relationships with their clients.
Many of our staff have come to us from other companies where they have felt stressed, undervalued and unable to deliver the high quality care they want to. They describe joining us as a ‘relief’.
One of those was disillusioned carer Rochelle Monte, whose powerful testimony about the nightmare of poor care is included in BBC news reports today. Rochelle now works for Home Instead, who she describes as “an ethical company who respect and value care as well as staff”.
I welcome the publication of today’s important report. But it is only the first step in a long process to begin to change the UK’s broken care system.
I will be working closely with the UK Homecare Association, with government and with our own carers to consider the implications of the report and to lobby for change.
Trevor Brocklebank Chief Executive, Home Instead Senior Care