Future Social Care Coalition

Maria Rainbird

“A quick glimpse of my life as a carer:

First call is at 6.30 am, I will then do 7 or 8 am calls. I can scan out of my last AM call anywhere between 10.30-11.30. Lunch calls can start from 11 am, of which I make between 5-7 calls. I scan out of the last call between 2.30-3.30 Tea calls start at 3 pm.

Again I will make 5-7 calls finishing last call between 6-7. Bed calls start 6.30. I will make 7-9 calls finishing between 10-11pm. Travel time is given at 5 mins.

The majority of journeys take between 5-10 mins on a clear run, which has taken 20 mins at times due to traffic during school runs. The 5 mins are from when I scan out of my call and scan into my next call. This does not take in to consideration the time to lock/unlock doors, retrieve keys and put them back into the key safe, get to my car, for which we can not always park outside, and get PPE needed for call.

At present in our branch, we have 8 working carers, assisted by the branch manager and field supervisor in the evenings, to cover approximately 79 calls in 1 day, 24 of which require 2 carers.

With this in mind, we do not get regular breaks to eat properly. If we finish late, not enough sleep before starting the day. I have worked over 70 hrs in 1 week on a number of occasions, and so have many of my colleagues. Fuel allowance is nowhere near adequate at 30p a mile.

I have just filled my car with fuel at 1.99 a litre. As I can use over £10 in fuel just doing my morning calls, I see I am actually paying myself to work. This does not include the wear and tear on my car, or the business insurance I have to pay for. ‘

This does not make being a carer a very attractive job for those who are considering it. You may do 8-9 hrs worth of call hours a day, but in reality, it can be 12hrs or more taking into factor travel times so family and personal life start to disappear.

At present, my health is now starting to suffer and I am having to consider giving up my job which I enjoy doing. I used to be a registered general nurse for 20 yrs but was unhappy with how the NHS was going.

I see now that problems in social care are a lot worse with no incentive for anyone to join. I can only see this getting worse leaving many vulnerable people at risk of ending up in hospital this putting added strain on hospitals and care homes.

Health and social care in this country used to be what I was proud of. Unfortunately after years of mismanagement, poor funding and disrespect to all staff who work within these settings, I fear it will collapse before I may be in need of this help if nothing is done to make the job more attractive and affordable for those looking at joining the caring profession.

I would love the opportunity to meet my MP on lobby day, but unfortunately will be too busy working.

My other concern regarding the lack of carers is the lack of training. I have not yet met a carer that has had any training apart from a couple of days of induction. They have not been informed of the importance of medication or have a basic knowledge of possible side effects. But even observations are needed when washing etc in keeping an eye on the client’s health and well-being.

Basic hygiene within the home, the importance of cleanliness and respect for their homes. Practices that were banned from hospitals over 10 years ago are still acceptable in their homes. No ongoing training apart from health and safety manual handling. The list is huge.”