Social care workers up and down the country are facing abuse from members of the public while delivering care to vulnerable people.
One care provider in South Devon said it has been forced to hire a private security firm to protect its staff, who are being threatened and “spat at” on a daily basis.
The care workers have been accused of spreading the virus and labelled “carriers of death” by teenagers in the street.
Katrina Green, director of the Bay Care Group, which provides community care in Torbay, told Home Care Insight: “It’s been happening daily. It’s the ignorance of the youth that’s the problem. They say [care workers] are key infectors.”
Torbay Council is paying a security firm to protect care workers across the county for two weeks.
“We currently have the security guards patrolling the streets and watching our care workers. They have a two-minute response time for emergency calls. We are looking to extend this for a longer period of time, as we are concerned that as the community is isolated for a longer period of time then hate crime towards care workers may increase,” said Green.
Bay Care said it is looking into introducing a buddy system “if things get worse”, which will see people working in pairs, and all staff have been given emergency alarms.
Meanwhile, a number of social care staff in North Lanarkshire have been verbally abused while delivering care.
Councillor Paul Kelly, deputy chair of Health and Social Care in North Lanarkshire (HSCNL), said such behaviour is in the minority, but called for the public to “show respect” towards staff.
“It’s vital that people respect the incredible work health and social care staff are doing just now under exceptionally trying circumstances,” he said.
“We have never in our generation faced, and hopefully will never face again, a pandemic like the one we are currently experiencing.
“Our staff should never face any abuse of any kind. They deserve our thanks and their dedication and empathy should be recognised by everyone.”
Ross McGuffie, chief officer of HSCNL, said: “We have a range of measures to protect our staff, however in recent days we have unfortunately seen incidents where our staff have been verbally abused in the community.
“We’re committed to deterring such incidents and ensuring staff are trained to deal with situations when they do arise. Everyone has a duty to protect our staff while they deliver our services 24-hours a day, seven days a week. Our staff should be able to fulfil their duties without fear of assault or abuse.”
The Local Government Association said it is growing increasingly concerned about “unacceptable” attacks on council workers carrying out essential duties, including community care.
It is calling on the public to respect the “tireless efforts” of staff as they go about their work to keep essential services going for communities while reducing risk during the coronavirus lockdown.
Councillor James Jamieson, LGA Chairman, said: “Local government workers should always be respected and valued – even more so in these challenging times – when they are needed more than ever.
“It is becoming increasingly concerning to hear that local government workers are being subjected to physical and verbal abuse as they try and play their part in keeping the country running through this crisis.
“This is unacceptable, and it has to stop.”
Caption: Care workers in North Lanarkshire.