It’s Carers Week and the focus is on carers’ ill health as a result of the strains of caring. Unfortunately a Which? investigation found that having paid-for careworkers doesn’t always mean peace of mind for family carers.
In our research carried out earlier this year, relatives described how they picked up the pieces on a day-to-day basis, with one describing how – over the week – mistakes included the bedspread pulled over soiled sheets, used incontinence pads left out, the fridge door left open and the shower not switched off.
This carer, like some others, felt short-changed as careworkers did not have time to do agreed care such as making her husband breakfast or shaving him. When we added up the time given to this couple, only six hours out of an agreed nine were given by rushed carers during that week (72%).
We asked you to share your experiences of home care on Which? Conversation. We received a range of views from those who work in the industry in addition to those on the receiving end.
Paid-for care industry
M Candler has worked in the industry for 30 years and feels the issues have gone from bad to worse:
‘The demands on care agencies to deliver quality care on a shoe string budget is causing mistakes to be made and no continuity as staff get frustrated with the system and find other job out of the care sector.’
Family run care agency owner Sarah said:
‘It is devastating hearing the level of unprofessional support being provided. We are in the very early stages of development but find it extremely hard to become recognised due to bigger (not always better) agencies being given the ‘ok’ by social services.’
Family carers have their say
John has received good service from the care industry but fears this is not the case for all:
‘I can tell you of a great carer, of great council care service, but it is the exception in our experiences. So, a pat on the back for the good ones, but we have to change the more common poor service.’
William Byrd thinks carers should receive regular check-ups:
‘Frequent, unannounced checks should be made by social workers, very frequent (weekly at least) on the most vulnerable.’
Attitudes towards older people
Richard thinks it’s a wider issue about our attitude to older people:
‘As far as I can see – all care for the aged is very substandard – from state pensions below the poverty line to being forced to pay for long term care services that if the old person were younger it would be free. Though we live in a “Welfare State” it appears directed at, and for, the rich.’
So why aren’t incidences being picked up on and acted on? Liam Allmark believes that people don’t know where to turn if they’ve cause for complaint:
‘There are obviously serious problems around capacity, funding and communications. It was very telling that less than half of the people surveyed for the report were given the procedure for making complaints so where there were problems there was very little hope of them being adequately resolved.’
We’re carrying out further research, looking more specifically at the experience of family carers even where paid-for care is also received, and would love to know your experiences and views.