Date: Wednesday 19 February
It’s time to care, says UNISON as survey reveals Scotland’s
A survey of Scottish homecare workers has exposed the shocking
reality of the country’s care services.
The majority of workers polled in the UNISON survey believe the
service is not sufficient to meet the needs of the elderly and
vulnerable people they care for – both from the time they
can spend and the quality of care they can provide. Almost half
of carers (44%) said they were limited to specific times to spend
with their clients. One in two workers are not reimbursed for
travelling between client visits, while three in four said they
expected the situation to get worse over the coming year.
The survey – Scotland: It’s Time to Care –
also revealed that one in ten are on zero hours contracts. This
is being fuelled by the way councils commission care and is leading
to worse services for the elderly and some of the most vulnerable
people in our society.
UNISON Scotland Deputy Convener Stephen Smellie said:
“Our care services are hanging by a thread and this survey
shows that as austerity has bitten, it is the elderly and vulnerable
in our community who are paying the price. The elderly in our
society deserve better – much better – and so do care
The shocking results of this survey will be a focus of a debate
on Scotland’s care services that will take place later today
(Wednesday). Organised at The Gathering, the event – Scotland’s
Care of the Elderly: a national disgrace? – will bring together
key figures in the public and voluntary sectors, including UNISON,
Alzheimer Scotland and Labour MSP Neil Findlay.
Dave Watson, UNISON Scotland’s Head of Bargaining and Campaigns,
will be speaking at the event and will say:
“This report gives staff at the front line of care delivery
the chance to tell their story about care in Scotland and it doesn’t
make comfortable reading. It should be a wake-up call for the
Scottish Government and commissioning bodies to take action to
end the race to the bottom in care provision.
“Procurement action includes a requirement that all care
provision should mandate:
· The Scottish Living Wage: this will help the recruitment
and retention of staff and support continuity of care
· Improved training: to ensure that care is delivered
by properly qualified staff
· Proper employment standards: ending the abuse of zero
and nominal hour contracts
· Adequate time to care in every care visit.
“Fairly paid, well-trained staff on proper contracts with
time to care is the very least older people in our communities
have a right to expect.”
Notes to editors
1. The full UNISON Scotland survey – Scotland: It’s
Time to Care – can be accessed on our website at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/socialwork/timetocare.pdf
Tome to care pages at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/socialwork/timetocare
2. The survey was carried out throughout Scotland and the figures
included are based on the results of more than 300 homecare workers
throughout the community and voluntary sector, local government
and the NHS.
3. The debate – Scotland’s Care of the Elderly: a
national disgrace? – is being held today at 2.30pm in Glasgow.
More information is available on The
4. Dave Watson gave oral evidence to the Scottish Parliament
ICC committee on 4 December 2013, to explain UNISON’s concerns
over the impact of zero, or nominal hours contracts on care workers.
He told the committee: “Along with zero-hours contracts,
we would include people with nominal-hours contracts, by which
I mean people who have a contract for, say, 10 hours but regularly
work 15 or 20 hours. People will always say that there are people
who want such contracts—and there are, in some areas—but
that is not the norm, particularly in areas such as care. We need
to be clear that, in those circumstances, zero-hours contracts
have some unfortunate impacts that may not always be obvious.
Interestingly, some of those are similar to the impacts of blacklisting.
“The other day, I was doing a focus group with a group
of care workers and I said to those who were on zero-hours or
nominal-hours contracts, “Would you raise health and safety
issues with your employer?” They said, “We’re
on these contracts. If we raise health and safety issues, we will
not be asked back.” That is exactly the position that colleagues
were in with blacklisting. Sadly, when I then asked them, “What
if you saw care abuse?”, they said, “We’d be
pretty reluctant to raise that as well, to be honest, for the
same reason.” People on zero-hours or nominal-hours contracts
who raise difficult questions do not get asked back, and people
are concerned about that.”
The full report can be found on the Scottish Parliament’s
website (see section 2310) http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/