Save Care Now – Home Care update

UNISON hold regular JCC’s with Home Care management to discuss the concerns of our members. We have a number of upcoming agenda items we wished to be raised:

Our Home Care members deserve a pay rise

UNISON believes that home carers and the allied teams all deserve a pay rise in re- sponse to their efforts throughout the Covid 19 pandemic. Management are in agreeance with this and we are currently looking at a possible regrading of Home Care Staff. We believe the current job description does not reflect the role descriptions, qualifications, and skills required to be a home carer. Cur- rently all posts in Inverclyde Council go through a Job Evaluation Process which scores a job on things like Communication, Physical Effort, Environment, Knowledge and Responsibility of the job. We believe there are a number of areas that would score much higher under a new job description and we have been back and forth to management trying to create a job description that fits the realities of the job.

In addition to a regrading we believe our members need a cost of living pay rise. UNISON’s’ pay claim for Scotland includes a £2,000 flat payment or 6%, whichever is the greater, across all pay points; a separate payment towards pay restoration; and an underpinning minimum rate of pay of £10.50 an hour.

COSLA’s current offer is a flat rate payment of £800 (this will be applied to SJC set hourly rates based on a 37 hour working week giving an underpinning minimum rate of pay of £9.75 per hour) for all employees remunerated up to £25,000; 2% for staff earning £25-40,000 and 1% for higher earners. UNISON believes this unacceptable and does nothing to The pay award for the NHS in Scotland is for an average 4% increase.

UNISON calls for more robust medications policy

Both locally and nationally UNISON has raised concerns about the increasingly complex medication administration carried out by home carers who feel under trained to do the duty. Home Care Steward, Wilma Reid says “Home care increasingly is used to cover duties previously done by Registered District Nurses. District Nurses take years of training and supervision in the field before qualifying on a starting salary of £33,000 far higher that a Home Carer. As our population continues to grow older and with increasing complex prescriptions our members are increasingly reporting to us confusion over Inverclyde Councils Medicine Policy and blurred boundaries as to what should be done by trained nursing professional.”

“We have members confused about their responsibilities as instructions from trainers and management are often contradictory. For example, with Level 3 clients it is UNISON’s understanding that controlled medication should be administered only if the medication comes direct from a doset box. Yet many supervisors pressure staff to administer controlled medication out with the doset box even though they have received training from district nurses telling them not to.”

UNISON is seeking clarity over the medication policy. We are also insisting that if home carers are instructed to give controlled medication out with a doset box that it is written in the care plan and there is clear written instruction for the home carer to administer the medication.

George Steele, Branch Health and Safety Officer, says “members have the right to feel safe at work and part of this is working within your ‘zone of competency’. If you are asked to do a task which you feel untrained for, or that you may be risking harming others, that you are within your rights to refuse to do the task. If you feel unsafe, unsure seek advice from your line manager. Insure that any instruction is followed in writing so you have a paper trail evidencing what you were instructed you to do. If you seek any further advice call UNISON on 01475 715900”

UNISON is raising these issues with management. If you have any comments to make on the Medicine Policy for home care contact us unison@inverclyde.gov.uk.

Understaffing, Sickness, and Annual Leave

UNISON is increasingly concerned for members left trying fill the void of cover from absences in Homecare. Stuart Donnachie, Home Care Steward, commented “A staffing crisis in Home Care has been looming for many years and with Covid staff are increasingly showing signs of burnout and going off on the sick. This cannot go on for ever as the remain staff have more frantic schedules which can also lead to burn out. As a supervisor, much of my time is spent trying to find cover for shifts. This means that some staff are working huge amounts of overtime which although may mean additional pay can also mean exhaustion.”

Members are also reporting increasingly difficultly to take time off on annual leave. If this is the case for you then please get in touch with UNISON as we want to document cases where members are being unable to take time off so we can challenge this at a higher level.

Vanessa McNelis, Home Care Steward says “Recruitment must be Inverclyde Councils no1 priority. Home Care must find a way of attracting younger people to the profession. There are many good things about the job, you get a lot of satisfaction from caring for people and the appreciation from families and the community generally is well received. However pay and general conditions continue to be uncompetitive. Offering a package of more humane shift patterns, flexible working and higher wages will help to attract many more people into the profession.”

Another barrier we are asking management to address is need to drive as essential criteria to start the job. Many people either can’t drive or don’t have access to a car, the council must make allowances to either remove this requirement to drive or offer driving lessons or access to a council car.

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