ATEC24 (assistive technology enabled care) provides alarms and equipment for elderly and vulnerable citizens to help them live safely in their own homes. The Monitoring and Response service within ATEC24 handles calls from provides emergency responders to device alerts and calls from service users. Monitoring and Response Officers’ time is split between handling the calls that come in and responding to them by visiting service users in their homes. It is a challenging and highly skilled role that faces extremely challenging situations.
The work of ATEC24 is invaluable. However, members have raised concerns about the pressures on the service and radical proposals that impact on the workforce.
We are surveying workers in ATEC24 to understand the issues you are facing:
Understaffed and overworked
The Monitoring and Response service is not adequately staffed and for over a year the service has relied on excessive amounts of overtime and the work of bank staff coming from other areas.
Extreme workloads and bank staff without manual handling and first aid training present health and safety risks to staff that drive across the city responding to emergencies.
Outsourcing call handling
The Council are temporarily outsourcing call handling to allow for changes to technology and to provide training.
There has not been sufficient consultation or information on this—most workers have been left in the dark entirely and any voices raised have not be listened to.
There remain a lot of questions around how this will be successfully delivered without a negative impact on the service and workforce.
Cancellation of TSA accreditation
For around 15 years, the service has been governed by the Technology Enabled Care Services Association. This ensures the quality of the service.
Without consulting or informing staff, management cancelled membership to the TSA. This raises concerns over the quality of service provided to the public.
Workers believe that there are not sufficient numbers of devices. The servicke has been forced to rely on installing devices with low batteries. Workers believe that this places service users at risk.
Following an unsatisfactory meeting with management in December 2021, Unite wrote a letter to Judith Proctor, the head of Health and Social Care, and Andrew, the Council’s Chief Executive, in January 2022, expressing our concerns and calling for an immediate halt to the plans to outsource.
We are in continual contact with members to understand the problems and ensure management are aware of these.
Graeme Smith, branch convener, raised the plight of ATEC24 workers with the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB) at the 8 February 2022 meeting. The video below contains the part of the deputation on ATEC24 and Board members’ comments. We encourage members in the area to watch the discussion following the deputation, particularly from 1:04:25 where the Board summarises their commitments.
Outcomes so far
We have achieve made steps to get proper scrutiny of the major changes in ATEC24 and are moving toward ensuring workers have an effective voice in changes.
We have had the following agreed:
- Fortnightly meetings between senior management and the trade unions
- A document of frequently asked questions (FAQs) issued to clarify concerns—this will continue to be updated as concerns arise
- A commitment from the EIJB to include ATEC24 in the system pressures report
- A commitment from the EIJB to provide their members with a briefing note on the situation in ATEC24, ensuring councillors have oversight of the issues
- Proposals around electric vehicles paused.
As the Council plow ahead with outsourcing call handling, despite our objections, we will continue working to protect the rights of workers and ensure your voices are heard.
On 22 March, we will be at the EIJB to scrutinise the reports on ATEC24 and to keep the pressure on.
We will continue to meet with staff and will hold regular meetings with all Unite members to make sure your concerns are raised at the best forum.
We are in discussion with HR over the application of the Managing Change policy as we firmly believe that this should have been used—and could still be a fruitful measure for the changes to come.
The service needs a culture change to ensure it
- follows Council procedures for significant change
- protects staff and service users from health and safety risks
- listens to and values the experienced and skilled staff that actually deliver the service.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or comment—or add your public comments below.