Low paid, overworked, undervalued—Audit Scotland’s findings on social care

Last week Audit Scotland published a social care briefing analysing the state of the sector and the challenges it faces. We encourage all staff in Health and Social Care to read this and provide a brief overview in the following article.

The findings confirm what Unite CEC Branch has long believed: that social care staff are low paid, overworked and undervalued, and that the current staffing crisis is not caused by external circumstances, but exposed by them. The cause of the crisis is historical poor treatment and undervaluing of social care workers.

The briefing raises further alarms about the marketisation of social care, which is particularly worrying as the SNP’s National Care Service (NCS)—or National Commissioning Service, as would be more accurate—is on the horizon. Proponents of the free market would argue that competition between companies increases standards and increases the range service users can choose from, yet the briefing reports with concern that

commissioning focuses on cost rather than quality. Competition between providers has been at the expense of collaboration and quality.

And later in the report

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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.

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COVID measures for Omicron

Over half of all COVID cases in Scotland are caused by the new variant, Omicron, and the numbers are rising at an alarming rate each day, with over 1,000 new cases identified yesterday.

New measures came into place on Friday (17 December) to fight the spread of coronavirus.

Read on for a summary of updated measures and steps to make yourself safe at work.

Continue reading “COVID measures for Omicron”

Demo at City Chambers —#SaveOurCareHomes

A flyer reading Edinburgh Council-run care homes for elderly people face closure

Yesterday, activists from Unite, Unison and Another Edinburgh is Possible demonstrated outside the City Chambers to protest the proposals to close Council care homes.

Read about the campaign to Save Our Care Homes.

The Edinburgh Integrated Joint Board were noting the progress of the Bed Based Care Strategy that was proposed at the previous June meeting. The proposals look to close 4 Council-run care homes, convert one into a hospital care setting and convert the remaining Council-run homes to nursing homes. This would see the removal of Council-run residential care homes in the city. The plans would cut over 200 beds in Council care homes.

Continue reading “Demo at City Chambers —#SaveOurCareHomes”

Care home closures

Unite is asking the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board (EIJB) why it produced a report proposing closure of several Local Authority Care Homes and was ready to vote it through (therefore authorise these closures) despite having no consultation with residents, employees or unions until our deputation and subsequent media interest encouraged them to think again.

Many of our members in the care homes under threat (Ferrylea, Ford’s Road, Clovenstone and The Jewel) had been informed, some by email, only a few days earlier. Some of our members had just been moved from the now closed Cherry Oak to homes earmarked for closure.

This is no way to treat our elderly residents and the workers who care for them and it provides us with a stark warning about the behaviour of those with decision-making power over others and how the enormous efforts and challenges of the pandemic can be so easily forgotten, lest we continually remind.

Five-hundred pound bonus for health and social care workers—local authority newsletter

Unite has welcomed the announcement by the Scottish Government that health and social care workers will receive £500 one-off payment. This will be well received by those care workers who are in some of the lowest paid jobs in Scotland.

However Unite members are extremely disappointed that the Scottish Government has decided to ignore all other local government frontline workers who have worked through the pandemic. Although the below list is nowhere near exhaustive, imagine life without these workers!

Read mor

Sign our petition: 5 steps to care to protect the care sector

5 Steps to Care to protect care workers and service users

We are aware of concerns from care workers about the control of infection of COVID-19. A major concern is that agency workers are often working different shifts in different care settings.

We support agency workers making a living, but we feel that the City of Edinburgh Council is responsible for reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection and keeping everyone safe.

Sign our 5 steps to care petition calling for the Council and employment agencies to adopt our 5 steps to care to keep staff and service users safe.

5 steps to care

City of Edinburgh Council and employment agencies must:

  1. allocate agency workers shifts in the same care setting during COVID-19
  2. strictly monitor where agency staff are working
  3. implement effective workforce planning, including increased staffing to cover absence
  4. provide all staff with appropriate PPE, that is fitted for the individual

And

  1. City of Edinburgh Council must commit to a post-COVID-19 review of the use of agency staff with a view to creating permanent roles.

Mary Alexander, Deputy Regional Secretary of Unite, commented

I have written to the Council about asking for a review of procedures and a plan of action to keep all workers (including agency workers) and residents in care homes safe.  This is particularly important given the increasing numbers of care home residents dying with Covid related illness and the fatalities among care workers.