It’s time to care, says UNISON as survey reveals Scotland’s care crisis

A survey of Scottish homecare workers has exposed the shocking reality of the country’s care services. The majority of workers polled in the UNISON survey believe the service is not sufficient to meet the needs of the elderly and vulnerable people they care for – both from the time they can spend and the quality of care they can provide. Almost half of carers (44%) said they were limited to specific times to spend with their clients. One in two workers are not reimbursed for travelling between client visits, while three in four said they expected the situation to get worse over the coming year.

The survey – Scotland: It’s Time to Care – also revealed that one in ten are on zero hours contracts. This is being fuelled by the way councils commission care and is leading to worse services for the elderly and some of the most vulnerable people in our society.

UNISON Scotland Deputy Convener Stephen Smellie said:

“Our care services are hanging by a thread and this survey shows that as austerity has bitten, it is the elderly and vulnerable in our community who are paying the price. The elderly in our society deserve better – much better – and so do care workers.”

The shocking results of this survey will be a focus of a debate on Scotland’s care services that will take place later today (Wednesday). Organised at The Gathering, the event – Scotland’s Care of the Elderly: a national disgrace? – will bring together key figures in the public and voluntary sectors, including UNISON, Alzheimer Scotland and Labour MSP Neil Findlay.

Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland’s Head of Bargaining and Campaigns, will be speaking at the event and will say:

“This report gives staff at the front line of care delivery the chance to tell their story about care in Scotland and it doesn’t make comfortable reading. It should be a wake-up call for the Scottish Government and commissioning bodies to take action to end the race to the bottom in care provision.

“Procurement action includes a requirement that all care provision should mandate:

·         The Scottish Living Wage: this will help the recruitment and retention of staff and support continuity of care;

·         Improved training: to ensure that care is delivered by properly qualified staff;

·         Proper employment standards: ending the abuse of zero and nominal hour contracts;

·         Adequate time to care in every care visit.

“Fairly paid, well-trained staff on proper contracts with time to care is the very least older people in our communities have a right to expect.”

Click here to read the full report.