Community Care have published an article on six ways to improve conditions for home care workers.

MPs gathered in Westminster to debate how to improve the working conditions of home care workers and, in turn, the quality of services. It was reassuring to see cross-party support for overhauling a system that sees up to 200,000 home care workers effectively paid less than the national minimum wage (according to Unison figures).

“Action is desperately needed on the terms and conditions of care workers,” said Andrew Smith (Labour), who kicked off the debate. He pointed out that zero-hours contracts in particular presented real problems for the continuity of care.  Simon Hughes (Lib Dem) echoed Smith’s concerns: “I have had care workers troubled by their ability to do their job come to see me. In my experience, such workers are troubled by a combination of not having enough time to look after the person they are caring for and no adequate account being taken of travel time, which means that they are in effect paid below the minimum wage to do a job that they cannot carry out sufficiently and that often there is no continuity of care from a particular individual for a vulnerable, normally elderly person.”

Smith said one care worker in his constituency (Oxford East) had chosen to go back on Jobseeker’s Allowance, because he was actually financially better off out of work.

Of course, many of you will already be well aware of the difficulties facing home care workers. But what is particularly interesting were the six solutions proposed by another Lib Dem, Andrew George, at the end of the debate:

  1. Encourage care providers to offer at least a living wage for workers: £7.20 per hour and £8.30 in the London area
  2. Travel time between visits should be part of salaried time
  3. A mileage rate should be set and shared by all
  4. There should be a minimum visit time of 45 minutes in very exceptional cases and at least an hour for most visits, especially if it requires two staff members and involves at least two of the following procedures  getting out of bed; dressing or undressing; toileting; feeding; washing and mobility support
  5. An efficient and effective arrival and departure reporting and recording system should be introduced
  6. Care workers should be registered

He concluded: “With that kind of support, I believe that we can give home care workers the proper status and support that they richly deserve.”

Home Care Direct strongly supports these solutions and believes that the way that we work already goes a long way to achieving all of the above.  We aim to pay our personal assistants as highly as possible, we find valuing the staff with higher wages creates a stable and reliable staff team.  Also as we employ personal assistants local to the person they care for, and often people they already know, we find that this again leads to strong, stable staff teams.  As our personal assistants only work with the client that has selected them this means that the issue of travelling between clients is a non-event for people who use the Home Care Direct service.  However if any mileage is incurred by our workers then we recommend to funding authorities that this is paid at no less than 35p per mile.  With regards to short multiple calls, Home Care Direct have found that moving away from this traditional domiciliary care model has made a huge positive impact on the services received by our clients and the working conditions of our personal assistants.  Using the Home Care Direct support box to record visits means that all support provided to individuals who use our services is recorded and tracked without the completion of paper time sheets.  As Home Care Direct are fully compliant with CQC regulations we ensure all the people we employ are fully CRB and reference checked and trained to meet the needs of the client they are working with to the highest possible standard.

We would love to hear your thoughts on these solutions to changing care at home so