UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014

UNISON survey reveals Scotland’s care crisis

Workers tell the human stories behind the cuts as a UNISON survey exposes the shocking reality of Scotland's care services.
   “It’s getting worse. I don't know where its going to end, no one cares about the patient or client anymore”, one worker told the 'Scotland: It’s Time to Care' survey which was published today.
  Another warned: "“Clients are losing out, care is not given properly, clients are missed out or forgotten about, no one cares or listens to staff or clients.”
  Poignantly one worker said “I feel worthless.” If that is how they feel, what about the people they are desperately trying to care for?

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 workers.”

And Scottish Organiser Dave Watson told a Scottish Parliament Committee in December: “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.” http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/28862.aspx?r=8682&mode=pdf

But it is the voices of the workers that tell a human story that should shame politicians in any so-called developed country. This is the real cost of austerity:-
“Shorter times with residents increased workloads and lots of stress that doesn’t just end when we finish our 12 and a half hour shift.”
“No one cares anymore it’s all down to money that the council hasn't got.” 
“I've worked in homecare for 12 years and since the change of system in 2009 have seen the service steadily deteriorate to the point where I am ashamed and embarrassed to be part of it.”
“Companies who are suppose to put the people we support and their needs first are treating it like a business and nothing more!! It's what works for them NOT the people we support.”
The shocking results of this survey were a focus of a debate on Scotland’s care services that took place today. Organised at The Gathering,  the event – Scotland’s Care of the Elderly: a national disgrace? – brought together key figures in the public and voluntary sectors, including UNISON, Alzheimer Scotland and Labour MSP Neil Findlay.

For more information and UNISON Scotland's five-point plan for fair procurement see http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/news/2014/janfeb/0219.htm
The survey is at http://www.unison-scotland.org.uk/socialwork/timetocare.pdf