Why should councils sign up to the charter?
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.
It will save money
Having better quality homecare will mean fewer people need residential care, which is much more expensive.
As councils move towards greater integration with local health partners they will be able to reduce demands on the NHS by reducing unnecessary A&E admissions. Having a higher quality homecare service will also help to reduce hospital ‘bed blocking’. The number of people staying in hospital due to a lack of suitable homecare provision is currently on the increase across the UK.
It will reduce staff turnover rates
Around a third of homecare staff leave the profession every year – that’s one of the highest levels of turnover in the whole economy.
Improving the treatment of homecare workers will increase the retention of skilled and experience staff.
This will mean that instead of a procession of strangers supporting them in ways that can be very intimate, vulnerable people will be far more likely to have a regular care worker who they can develop a trusting relationship with. A familiar face is especially important for people with certain conditions, such as dementia.
Care providers will save money and time too, as they will not need to hire and train new staff as often.
“…non-payment of the national minimum wage by way of unpaid travel time and the other cost involved with the role, unpaid training, phone and petrol, ensure homecare has a huge turnover of staff. As the needs of those requiring care have increased the regulations for employing staff have remained the same, and often good staff are forced to leave simply because they can’t afford to stay.” – Anonymous homecare worker
Vulnerable people deserve dignity and respect
Elderly and disabled people who receive care do not have to have already-too-brief visits cut short because care providers make no provision for travel time.
They do not have to deal with the distress and anxiety of a homecare worker arriving late because they didn’t finish on time at their previous appointment.
They do not have to have a series of strangers intimately care for them and they do not have to be left sitting in their own faeces and urine, hungry, frustrated, and lonely.
“Ensuring dignity, quality and choice for older and disabled people using home care is only possible if their care workers are also being treated fairly." - Rachel Eden, the Reading Lead Member for Adult Social Care in Reading borough Council which has signed up to the Ethical Care Charter.
Care workers deserve dignity and respect
Caring for vulnerable people is a difficult and demanding job.
The people who do it should be paid adequately, they should receive training, they should be assigned to regular clients so they can build relationships, they should be listened to when they make recommendations about the people they support, and they should never have to face the guilt of leaving a vulnerable person before they’ve been able to help them with what they need.
“At one time I was helping to care for a disabled man who was confined to a wheelchair. His wife asked if we could just give his back a quick wash before putting him to bed, as he felt much more comfortable then. I was told by the other carer with me that it wasn't on the task sheet, so we couldn't - even though we had a bowl of hot water and a flannel to wash his hands and face! Despite me asking the office to add this to the task sheet, it never got done. This was a man who had fought during World War II and we could not even wash his back.” – Anonymous homecare worker
"I am delighted that Southwark has signed up to the Ethical Homecare Charter. It is utterly unfair that those who provide crucial home-caring services to our most vulnerable people are often forced to be on zero hours contracts, meaning no guarantee of work or pay." - Catherine McDonald, cabinet member for adult social care, health and equalities when Southwark council adopted UNISON's Ethical Care Charter