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Home care campaign launched to ‘save a service in crisis’

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Trade union GMB has launched a domiciliary care campaign to help save a “service in crisis”.

The ‘Taking Care’ charter has been set up to tackle the lack of funding, poor wages and 47% staff turnover in the sector.

The union is calling on local authorities, national governments and care providers to support the Charter to ensure people get the care they need in their own homes and that care workers are paid fairly.

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It takes the best practice established in Yorkshire and North Derbyshire region and sets out an opportunity to organise a workforce that is mainly not in a trade union.

Rachel Harrison, GMB National Officer, said: “It’s clear to anyone who has any involvement in domiciliary care that the service is in crisis.  

“Whether it’s the poor wages, and in some cases non-payment for the time carers have to spend out there in the community, or the resulting 47% staff turn-over that causes a further crisis in recruitment; there is massive problems for both staff and providers. 

“All parties and all governments need to address the chronic problems and on-going crisis across care. 

“The ‘Taking Care’ charter is here to ensure people get the care they need in their homes, while domiciliary carers are treated with dignity.” 

GMB has identified six action points for providers and commissioners: Making Time for People; Commission Personal Support; Invest in People; Recognise Social Value; and Improve Service Delivery.

These focus on a need for a person-centred approach to care; committing to a ‘block care delivery model’ of commissioning and ending the culture of ‘time and task’ in home care; recognising the need for training and skills that are transferable, personal centred and contribute to a career pathway underpinned by continuing professional development; and creating commissioning bodies where all partners within the sector can come together to review home care delivery within their communities.

GMB has also launched the Ethical Home Care Commissioning Charter with the aim to ‘revolutionise’ the way care is commissioned in the UK.

It says the current system is built on a “lack of trust” and fails to encourage a professional service where providers, carers and clients are valued.

Peter Davies, a regional senior officer covering West Yorkshire, said: “The reality is that our local authority commissioners are bound by the money they have available to them to pay for the care, rather than having to design and set out what a fair commissioning rate for providers would be.

“However, we see a growing public demand for care to be recognised as the frontline and professional service that it is. It is now time we all responded to that demand and valued the care properly.”

The new minimum price for home care has been set at £20.69 per hour from 1 April, when the UK’s statutory national living wage and national minimum wage was increased.

Calculated by United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA), the minimum price is recognised within the social care and health sectors across the UK.

UKHCA has advised local authorities and NHS commissioners not to underestimate the cost of home care; arguing a cost saving approach, which effectively “salami-slices” elements of providers’ costs, would be risking quality and safety of a regulated service. It also risks further destabilising the workforce.

Colin Angel, UKHCA policy director, said: “Councils and the NHS must recognise the true costs of home care. Paying providers fees, which in some cases barely cover the costs of the wage bill, continues to destabilise an already fragile state-funded market.

“Persistently underestimating providers’ business costs is taking a risk with the quality of services, the experience of the workforce, and providers’ ability to comply with the legal requirements placed on them.

“UKHCA will continue to challenge central government on the overall funding of social care. However, it is local authorities and the NHS which are responsible for determining the prices they pay for home care services at a local level.”

Tags : campaigncommissioningGMB UnionTaking Care Charter
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke

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