Care Working Group: Protecting Care Workers

Kathy Jenkins – 14th October 2021

The Scottish Government is consulting on what a National Care Service for Scotland should look like.   In our Common Weal Social Care Reform group, we have emphasised the importance of understanding what ‘care’ is and of the fact that care must be based on building strong relationships between those in need of care and those giving care.  This means it is absolutely central to look after the social care workforce – to provide good education and training, support and supervision and good working conditions.  As part of this, it is crucial that the new National Care Service has as a cornerstone the health, safety and welfare of carers.  

The new Common Weal policy paper ‘Health, safety and welfare of the social care workforce’ explores issues faced by social care workers which compromise their safety and health, from understaffing and lack of support, violence and aggression, to inadequate infection control measures, to precarious contracts and low pay…resulting in work related stress, ill health and burn out.  

The paper looks at how the health of social care workers should be protected by their employers, their unions, the Scottish Government and local authorities, the law and enforcement agencies.   It makes a serious of recommendations which we hope will inform the shape of a National Care Service in Scotland.

Please let us know your thoughts on this as we try to create a better National Care Service.

Kathleen Jenkins is a member of the Common Weal Care Reform working group. She is the Secretary of Scottish Hazards, a health and safety activist network which provides a support service to mainly non unionised workers. She is the health and safety officer for the Edinburgh Not for Profit Branch of Unite. Kathy has worked in community development, public health and university teaching.

You can read more from Kathy at https://www.heraldscotland.com/news/homenews/19637393.pandemic-failure-alarm-massive-under-reporting-workplace-covid-deaths-scotland/

3 thoughts on “Care Working Group: Protecting Care Workers”

  1. Ian Davidson

    You obviously “know your onions”. Both from former role as “HQ” adviser in a national sheltered housing/care body*, and more recently as a part time carer (parent with dementia) depending upon local authority and then carers from former*, I was concerned at the relatively poor pay, conditions (including pensions on retirement), workloads etc of care staff. As a staff group, they are often the last to be considered when organisational changes are being made. At public level, there is ignorance as to actual duties (still image of making a cuppa and tidying up the house). Fundamental change and funding boost required.

  2. Having supported care of a disabled relative for a few decades, I personally think there is too much emphasis on the ‘wellbeing’ of staff – to the exclusion of the patient/resident/person requiring care. It is criminal & disgusting that our government & so called ‘regulators’, allow people to ‘care’ for vulnerable people with no requirement for one minute of HANDS ON training before they step over the threshold. Some are not fit to look after a dog, let alone a person requiring palliative care. They have no clue about basic care or infection control (including ‘nurses’). Some helped themselves to food, instead of assisting, leaving relatives to do it. Many in the care home could not speak, read or write basic English, yet were put in charge of updating ‘care plans’. It is criminal & dangerous to let these people change the way our ‘care system’. The Care Inspectorate are basically a money making racket, and our system is not fit for purpose. The NHS is not much better. So called ‘nurses’ do not know the basics of care, focussing instead of making tik-tok videos. Many people have died because of neglect & abuse in the NHS, care homes & at home, because their relatives were not able to fight for good standard of care. Needless to say that I did not stay home to protect the NHS, or clap for carers. There needs to be a criminal enquiry before they change the care system. Problem is that they are all indoctrinated by the same thinking, so will never be held accountable. Bring back the old style matron, sisters, staff nurses & enrolled nurses.

  3. May I ask what Kathy Jenkins education, field of expertise & work experience actually is please, as she is being portrayed as ‘an expert’ by Common Weal? The article simply says that she has ‘worked in’ community development, public health and university teaching’. What does she teach at university? What are her qualifications? Was she qualified as a doctor, nurse, social worker, carer & given hands on care in this capacity, or was she an academic, business administration or what? In what capacity has she worked in community development, public health etc? To promote someone as being ‘an expert’, we really need to know qualifications, experience & credentials. If this person has never been a doctor, nurse or carer herself, then how can they ‘fight for care workers rights’? What kind of person or organisation would fight for the rights of fit, healthy workers, without knowing the purpose of the job & without taking into consideration the needs of the people they are serving. Why are they not insisting they undertake at least 2 years basic training & have the required skills in order to work with vulnerable people? Why does she not insist that they have at least a good standard of English (both spoken & written), as was the case when we were at school? What about the ‘health & safety’ of the people they are allegedly ‘caring for’, is that not be a priority? This is exactly why the standard of care is failing & vulnerable people are dying. If a care worker is fit enough to do a job – which they are getting paid for – then they can walk out and go work elsewhere. A disabled, sick & vulnerable person, who may or may not lack mental capacity, can’t do this. Care workers get paid, NI & pension provision. Family carers don’t get this. It is quite frankly insulting to think they are somehow ‘hard done by’.
    The decline of the NHS & care system came when Margaret Thatcher introduced business managers with no actual clinical experience. She also set up various charities, which again meant lots of money making opportunities for business/financial managers & marketing people, while the actual work & care is being carried out by low skilled, low paid people or volunteers. What care is, has been systematically dumbed down. A lot of money is being made out of care, but people are not receiving high quality care or a ‘good product’. Some elderly friends joke that they will go on a cruise or check into a hotel, as they will likely be given better professional service & be treated with more dignity or respect. Many have been professional people themselves & the way they are treated by ‘care workers’ is a disgrace.

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