Signing up to UNISON’s Ethical Care Charter is a simple way for councils to improve homecare for the vulnerable people they are responsible for. It is a set of commitments that councils make which fix minimum standards that will protect the dignity and quality of life for those people and the workers who care for them. 

The most likely time for councils to sign up to the charter is before they renew a contract with a homecare provider, but councils are able to sign up at any point, and to implement the changes when they renew their contracts with homecare providers.

The commitments are split into phases to allow for gradual implementation of the charter.

The commitments of the Ethical Care Charter

Stage 1

  • The starting point for commissioning of visits will be client need and not minutes or tasks. Workers will have the freedom to provide appropriate care and will be given time to talk to their clients.
  • The time allocated to visits will match the needs of the clients. In general, 15-minute visits will not be used as they undermine the dignity of the clients.
  • Homecare workers will be paid for their travel time, their travel costs and other necessary expenses such as mobile phones.
  •  Visits will be scheduled so that homecare workers are not forced to rush their time with clients or leave their clients early to get to the next one on time.
  • Those homecare workers who are eligible must be paid statutory sick pay.

Stage 2

  • Clients will be allocated the same homecare worker(s) wherever possible.
  • Zero hour contracts will not be used in place of permanent contracts.
  • Providers will have a clear and accountable procedure for following up staff concerns about their clients’ wellbeing.
  • All homecare workers will be regularly trained to the necessary standard to provide a good service (at no cost to themselves and in work time).
  • Homecare workers will be given the opportunity to regularly meet co-workers to share best practice and limit their isolation.

Stage 3 

  • All homecare workers will be paid at least the Living Wage (as of November 2013 it is currently £7.85 an hour for the whole of the UK apart from London. For London it is £9.15 an hour. The Living Wage will be calculated again in November 2015 and in each subsequent November).  If Council employed homecare workers paid above this rate are outsourced it should be on the basis that the provider is required, and is funded, to maintain these pay levels throughout the contract.
  • All homecare workers will be covered by an occupational sick pay scheme to ensure that staff do not feel pressurised to work when they are ill in order to protect the welfare of their vulnerable clients.

When homecare services are well run they can help to ensure that people are able to live with dignity and in comfort.  But when they are delivered poorly they can have a devastating impact on the lives of care recipients and their families. 

The over-riding objective behind the Charter is to establish a minimum baseline for the safety, quality and dignity of care by ensuring employment conditions which a) do not routinely short change clients and b) ensure the recruitment and retention of a more stable workforce through more sustainable pay, conditions and training levels.

Simple, really!

Download the charter (pdf)