The Weekly Gripe

Home care worker, poor pay and conditions

Who could afford to work as a home carer?  Well I tried, for about six months and in the end I had to leave because I couldn't afford to stay on.  The company, a national one with council contracts really sold the job to me at my initial interview.  The pay didn't seem too bad at 7.30 an hour, plus free training (not something I would have expected to pay for, anyway) and the chance to do NVQs.  I don't drive but I do have a bike - they told me that all my clients would be in the city centre, 'within walking distance of each other'.

What they DON'T tell you at interview, is that in fact that you are only paid (by the second) for the time you are in a clients house.  You have to 'log in' (using the clients phone) and log out, when you arrive and leave.  If you log out more than three minutes over the allocated time (appointments are usually for either 15 or 30 minutes)you are not paid, unless there is a good excuse - client requires paramedics for example.  And as for all my clients being in the city centre, I was all over the city because they only had TWO in the city centre.

So here's how it is.  I leave home at 6.30 am (and I DO live in the city centre); half an hour of cycling to the first client for a 15 minute call and then another half hour cycle to the next client in the city centre.  This is followed by another half hour for two more clients, both in a suburb of the city and so on... getting home at around midday, sometimes 12.30 to 1.00pm.  I will then go out again for the evening calls at 5pm, visiting the same clients for 15 minutes each all over the city.  I will usually get home at around 7.30 - 8.00 pm (four clients, 15 minutes each).

A care worker, cycling to work No pay for time spent travelling between clients...

No pay is given for the time you spend travelling between visits which works out at more than the time you spend IN the homes!  In the week before Christmas my wages were 54 for five days work.  Travelling by bicycle or car wont make any difference and the company is unable to keep it's staff because of the way it pays.  Without the staff, it cannot get the clients and so the vicious circle continues.  It also means that the quality of care is driven down.  The company cannot afford to sack staff who fail to turn up at clients houses or who are otherwise incompetent.

Whilst I was working, there was one other carer who routinely failed to keep his appointments, leaving his clients without their medication, without food or with beds unmade.(some of these clients were incontinent), yet he was not sacked.  The company did not have anyone to cover his calls and without carers, would inevitably have lost their lucrative council contract.

In the week before Christmas, this particular carer went abroad. One of his clients, an elderly muslim man with altzeimers was placed on my rota for 'personal care' which involved help with showering.  Because of his religion however, he had specified that he did not want a female carer, so when I rang the office I was told to 'take him off' and not to visit.  They continued to place him on my rota for the next month and the night before my last day they called to ask me if I had been going.  'No', I replied, 'I was told not to - he's a Muslim and he does not want a female carer.'  'Oh, that's alright', the manager said, 'He's been told to expect a female.'  So the next day, I cycled out to his home (45 mins. from the centre) only to be told when I arrived there, that he DIDN'T WANT A WOMAN!!!  This makes me an hour and three quarters late for my next client on the other side of the city, whose son has arrived to take her out and who has cancelled the call by the time I get there.  I don't get paid for either call.

So it is us, the carers, and the elderly or vulnerable who suffer whilst the profit making care agencies continue to rake in the money.  Part of the initial training involves "awareness of clients' cultural sensitivities".  If this company had any genuine regard to cultural sensitivities, it would have returned that muslim man to the council in order for them to have placed him with an agency who could have provided him with a male carer.  Instead, he was left for a month and a half with no care at all.

It's an absolute disgrace.  If there are any people out there with television or radio connections, please consider putting together a documentary about the state of home care in this country.  Elderly people, many of whom suffer from dementia and cannot speak for themselves, or who are simply ground down and resigned to missed appointments, lateness and general incompetence are suffering invisibly.  They do not want a constant flow of different carers that don't stay in the job because the pay is so bad.  It is unsettling for them and upsetting to be always on the verge of losing someone they have got used to.  My clients were extremely upset when I left and I was sad to leave them too.

Gripe over - I have a decent job now where I am paid properly.  The misery, however, continues for carers and clients right across the country and I want people to be angry about it.


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Min wage 4 care workers

Last Summer a care company was ordered to pay £600,000 to its employees because it had failed to pay them the minimum wage. I wonder which company it was and I wonder if it is still getting council contracts.
4th Feb 15 01:02

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Helen

I did this work for not even a full day. It was a shadowing day and I didn't compete the training either. After my one day shadowing I was disgusted by the worker who said I should have left an elderly woman with dementia and mental health problems who forgets to eat because she, the worker, turned up an hour after the allocated visit time for the woman to have lunch. So I did it because I was 10 minutes late myself thinking the worker was inside. After talking to people who also work in the same area as myself this was the case for all of them by the staff. Not to the extreme of leaving but with lateness, rudeness and realising that you'll be paid for 5 hours instead of the full 9 hours you'll be working for. And after taking to service users they're fed up of shoddy service. Seriously find an agency that will pay what they're suppose to and always find out what others think. Really interviews and shadowing days are for you to also find out if that agency is for you and just not what works for them.
25th Aug 14 10:08

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wackie jackie

I have recently left working for an agency in Lincolnshire, they treat the staff disgracefully.. its all down to money, quote "you don't get paid if she dies, so staff will go".. disgusting company that lets people go just before 2 years of working for them so they cant take them to court...
27th Jul 14 05:07

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Chris 2

All the comments on this gripe about home care workers just shows how little the government value the elderly in this country. They worked, they paid their taxes and national insurance and now they are just regarded as nuisances. If they were valued more then those who look after them would be paid a decent wage and not be ripped off with extra charges and unreasonable demands.
22nd Jul 14 06:07

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selina

Most home care work is agency, that's how they get away with it. I worked ten years in home care for three different agencys. It was the same story for each company. I now work in a care home. I'm on min wage and responsible for staff and residents as well as the medication. Care workers aren't paid well its a disgrace when we are responsible for so much
16th Jul 14 03:07

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chantelle

I quit my job as a home carer 5 weeks ago. I was lucky to have a round near where i lived. But i did not drive and after quitting and going back to this company i told them straight, i was not willing to work 6.45 till 13.00 and back at 14.45 till 21.15. The office staff were my biggest problem. I thought the world of my clients. They knew me and liked me going to them. But the office staff were full of attitude. Carers join and are told they can have the hours they want, but they left after a week because they either get hardly any ir they get bombarded. There were times when theyd take on a client half an hour walk away, id be given ten mins to get there. I used to explain it was too far and i was earning about £3 for the effort. The office used to put new clients on my rota and not even phone to let you know if the client has a key safe or if there pallative or if they are aggressive. I had 7 hours a day not including 3 hours walking. I told the office that was plenty for me. Working 6.45 till 1.15 then 4.45 till 9. Tgey failed to listen and by the tine i walked out i was up to 9 hours a day plus 3 hours walking. They put a shopping call on me aswel so one day id be working 6.30-2.30 then back at 4.30 till 10.00. Now for the rubbish wage. The lack if appreciation and communication, who can blame carers for quitting. The sad thing is i cared about my 7 clients. I looked after them most days. I will miss chatting to them why there lunch was cooking. There stories and learning about there lives. I feel sad i have left them and now they have different carers going in. These people are in there last years of life. We are sometimes all they have most carers want to do there job and keep this connection but sadly we are pushed to give up. Care companies should be inspected. Calls to staff should be recorded and random checks should be carried out. Carers deserve more respect. We are out there in rain and hot days, snow and ice to help people. We can not eat out tea at a normal tume. We grab what we can. We dont get time with our family at night. We work weekends. We get harrased on our days off. We get attitude and no support from our managers. We get paid rubbish amounts of money. We gave to buy our own uniforms. We have to travel to get our own gloves. We have to beg for gloves aswel! Print of our own rotas and take them in. Get no travel pay. There is room for alot of change!!!
7th Jul 14 11:07

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Toni

I guess I am just going to echo what many many have already posted on here. Conditions, pay and overall care worker treatment is shockingly poor but what's just as bad is this in then reflected in the standard of care provision. As a Supervisor for a Home Care Company for over 8 years, it's becoming apparent to me change is long long overdue. Will it happen? As long as people at the top of the chain are making money, I think not!! I can't wait yo retire, I hear daily the challenges and issues of our team of (very dedicated) home carers, who in all honestly just want what every other working individual wants - a fair days pay for a fair days work. I feel so powerless to help or support carers who are at the end of there tether through sheer frustration or because they can no longer afford to work, yes you heard it right " they simply cannot afford to work in this industry". I have become disillusioned and as I said can't wait to retire. It's simply appalling conditions - I am sooo sick of hearing the same BS from the people at the top who are responsible for care in the country but yet year after year, nothing changes. For those who have never worked within the Homecare sector (and care homes) they would be totally shocked and appalled at how many many private home care companies are run, how they treat staff, staff conditions (or lack of) lack of local government interest, the whole "money game" tendering business.. It's a shambles. Carers are the main target when anything goes wrong.. The bottom of the pit, undervalued and looked upon by the majority of the public as "something they have just stood in" .. YET.. It is these very people who (me included and the thousands throughout the UK) who subsidise and keep the home care system afloat. Let's Imagine for just a moment... What would happen if tomorrow morning not one carer decided to turn up for another rewarding day at the office ? ...... It would be chaos and although in theory that may never happen, just remember as carers leave in droves and staff turnover increases (and young people avoiding a care career like a plague) ... What does the future hold for Care In Our Community?? For the sake of your families and your own future care, make it a major issue with your local MPs and all the individuals who influence decisions surrounding Healthcare in the UK - demand a better "care focused" (not money focused) homecare or care home service. No one listens to one voice, but many voices speak so much louder ..
2nd Jul 14 08:07

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Jeni

In the interview I was told that I was guarteed full-time hours. Then just before I started I got hold of the contract to sign, which was a zero hour contract! They also told me in the interview that I would get my rota a month prior. Wrong again! I recieve my rota every Friday via post, which only tells me what I'm working for the next week. This means I do not know what im working next week lets say. This means I have no control over my life. The company also calls me up most days asking me to cancel this visit, or add in this visit or just change my entire schedule for the day and give me a whole set of new ones. I am also a walker and I am not paid inbetween each call, and the company never mentioned this in the interview. for example yesterday I worked from 6.50am - 11am and then form 2.50pm - 7.15pm. So I should have been paid around 9 hours pay but I actually only got 6 hours pay, which means I lost out on 3 hours in travelling time worth of pay. Lastly in my contract it states that I would have to pay a sum of £100 if I left the company within my 6 months probation period! Rant over
7th Jun 14 02:06

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kittykath

I was working for a healthcare agency and thought the pay was so bad that our workers were the only ones affected. Like a lot of former careworkers, I can't contemplate going back after maternity leave because I can't afford to subsidise their business by paying for the petrol use partly out of money I need to feed my children, especially given the fact that I was sent long distances for visits. Add to that the fact that half the time I was working wasn't even paid because travel time is excluded and the fact that wear and tear on my car was more frequent. We were paid just 20p per mile in petrol expenses - this is a THIRD of what council careworkers were getting, at a time when petrol prices were half what they are now. When care was managed by councils, expenses staff were paid covered all their petrol for work, all the wear and tear on their vehicles, the hourly rate was better AND they were paid for travel time. As a result, it was difficult to get a job with them. Now there is a high staff turnover and bad carers who should be sacked but who employers can't afford to sack because of lack of staff - pay cheap money and expect cheap quality. Also expect to be harassed out of hours to do another shift on top of working the last 10 hours without a break, and the agency don't care if you've got a family to look after or if it causes tensions. Getting so much as a day's holiday is also a struggle, requiring a month's notice. Again, because of lack of staff. So what staff there are throw sickies, which puts an unbearable strain on those that are left to cover. Also, a lot of agencies so-say have a system of bank work, so inevitably workers will choose to work social hours, leaving huge staff shortages at weekends and on evenings. If all that isn't bad enough, don't make the mistake of being a live-in carer. I took on a visit that involved working with a live-in carer from another agency. She told me that when she was due to finish her week as a live-in, the agency couldn't find a carer to replace her. She ended up staying at the client's house for TWO MONTHS without a day or indeed ANY time off. She collapsed with exhaustion in front of the client one day, vomiting and was even told by her employer she had to stay while they found a replacement, even though she was in dire need of medical attention herself. This is happening all over the country. Only when care is serviced by workers employed directly by councils, they are paid in full for their petrol and wear-and-tear expenses and their travel time will the problem of care staffing problems be resolved.
17th Apr 14 05:04

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lulu

I have worked in homecare for nearly 10 years and it is getting to the point where i can no longer afford to do the job, i use my car for work and sometimes do over 100 miles of travelling at weekends and many more during the week, it costs me £160 a month in petrol but also there is also the cost of maintaining a car. Recently 7 healthcare assistants left the company because the could not afford the petrol, that is half our care staff. Its ridiculous, its becoming a joke. I think it is about time someone stood up to these unscrupulous employers and make them pay a decent allowance to their employees!!!!!!!!
31st Mar 14 01:03

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Jen

I walked out on my job as a carer this morning. I started working for the company a week ago. I requested part time hours - yesterday, I was booked to work from 7am until 11pm without a break. That is a whole 16 hours, of which I will be paid for 7 hours work. Absolutely disgraceful! I was called over and over during the day and requested to "squeeze in" more clients. Where on earth was I supposed to squeeze them in??? It is little wonder there are so many awful carers out there. They simply haven't the time nor the motivation to do the job well.
16th Feb 14 02:02

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mystery

Care Work is rewarding Job Leonard Cheshire Pay Staff £6.32 Min Wage a Hour, Expect you to Work Long Days 7:30am Till 9:30pm 13 Hour Shifts, Also They Charge you £54.00 For A Criminal Records Bureau Check Why Should Staff Have to Pay for That. They Do Not Mention That to After The Interview. you are contract of 32.5 hours but get 3 week rotas no regular pattern would not no what was working on the fourth week to much change. they need to value the service users more by valuing the staff in particular not charging the CRB Check to Staff, they Also seem to be promoting being a leading provider are you really though, can not wear Jeans For Work But can wear Tracksuit Bottoms don't see the reason in that, I would think wearing jeans was more professional. got to say after induction pay stays the same no rise like other companies normally offer extra after induction, the Job Pays Less then the local supermarket when lot more responsibility with changing leg bags, providing continence care, showering, bathing, toileting. there needs to be a more focused approach more support for service users like having the time to spend with them rather then rushing to another room in the setting. most of these service users have no friends and family been able to run things would help when the setting charges a fortune £20 an hour for hydrotherapy and managers salarly starts at £39.500 when cares on £7,000 but take off tax national insurance bus fare but £5,000 a year not much difference if not working.
10th Feb 14 03:02

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