Health and Social Care staffing crisis

Help us get through the pandemic by working in social care

Image by Ani Kolleshi, courtesy of Unsplash

This week the Chief Executive emailed all staff asking for volunteers to come forward to work in Health and Social Care to address the staffing crisis due to the pandemic.

It is vital that the Council can meet the needs of our most vulnerable citizens and it is in this spirit that the Council is calling on staff to fill gaps in home care and care home staffing.

The Council are also recruiting externally for roles in home care and care homes.

Working in social care

Read details of the crisis social care roles on the Council website.

The positions will be for 12 weeks, with a review to see if they need to extend this.

Full training will be provided. It is essential that staff are trained for these roles to ensure the health and safety of both the staff and service users. Training may include manual handling and first aid.

If taking on these roles you should not be asked to do anything that you have not been trained for or feel is unsafe. Contact your rep if this arises.

If you do choose to temporarily work in social care, we would be keen to hear from you to hear about your experience.

For existing social care staff, we understand that receiving fresh new staff into your workplace can be daunting and may cause concerns. We ask that you welcome the new staff with understanding and if any issues come up, your Unite reps is always here to provide support.

Social care recruitment—a bigger problem

While we fully understand the exceptional nature of the crisis and the need that drives this campaign, it is important to address the fact that this comes as a result of years of undervaluing and underpaying social care workers. These are essential workers that provide services that we cannot do without as a society. The work is stressful and the stakes are incredibly high. Staff make important decisions on a daily basis and often work above and beyond their duties and their contracted hours.

It is often said that you can judge a society by how it treats its most vulnerable, but this must be expanded: you can judge a society by how it treats those that care for its most vulnerable. And by this metric, Scotland—and the UK—falls far short.

This crisis cannot pass by without a re-evaluation of the value of social care workers and consequent action to address

  • low wages
  • high workloads
  • high stress levels
  • lack of career progression.

We will work with the Council to get through this time of crisis. We will also continue to work to highlight the value of social care workers and fight to redress the injustices they face in the workplace—one of which is the issue over payment of certification, which you can read about in the press release below.

If we truly value social care, then working in social care must be seen as a viable career, with hours and pay that allow the workers a quality standard of living, to show they are valued in a way commensurate with their valuable work.

Unite criticises Scottish Government over ‘discriminatory’ funding of social carers fees

Unite Scotland has today (14 January) strongly criticised the Scottish Government over the funding of Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) checks and Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) registration fees for new workers into the profession as ‘discriminatory’.

An announcement by the Scottish Government today confirmed that ‘new staff’ joining the social care workforce are to have entry costs paid by the Scottish Government until the end of March as part of measures designed to ‘encourage’ more workers into the profession, and to address the pressures facing the sector through the winter period.

Unite is highlighting that tens of thousands of existing social carers are however set to miss out, and that the Scottish Government is still refusing to fully fund all social care providers so that workers do not need to pay the registration fee. 

Unite launched its ‘Caring for Carers’ campaign to have the SSSC fees fully funded on Valentine’s Day 2020, and the demand was also part of the Joint Trade Unions’ Local Government Pay claim for 2021 to the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA).

The annual registration fees start at £25 for all support workers, £35 for residential child care and school care workers, and for social work mangers and care inspectors there is an annual cost of £80. Basic PVG checks cost £59. 

The announcement by the Scottish Government that new social carers will have the SSSC and PVG checks funded as part of efforts to attract new people into the profession is welcome. However, what about the carers who have had to endure a horrible and very challenging working environment over the last two years? We believe that all checks and registrations fees should be fully funded, rather than the Scottish Government introducing a discriminatory measure which penalises those who have worked with such dedication, professionalism and bravery over the last two years who are being told that they will continue to have to pay this fee out of their own pockets.

Wendy Dunsmore, Unite industrial officer

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