/ Health

Carers Week: your concerns over the quality of care

Carer holding hands with an older person

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.


Carer’s Week,Why do companies have no feeling for the carer’s families,meals,children,just work,work and more work,more new clients,the same carer on from very early hours to very late nights,no breaks,how do companies get away with this?

Amy Sherman says:
28 September 2012

Hi Joanna,

I recently joined a care company in Brighton, I only started in June and decided to quit a couple of weeks ago due to my disgust in the treatment of the service users in which they care for. There was so many bad things I witnessed I really believe that something needs to be done but I am unsure how to go about it, could you help at all? Thank you,

Amy Sherman

Gerald says:
1 August 2014

The Councils introduced Care at Home as a cheap alternative to Care Homes This can never be the case in reality it is difficult enough to organise Good Care in the closed environment of a Care Home ,where supervision is in house ,to do this in dozens of individual locations all over the country is impossible, we looked at the challange when the Councils first came up with the idea and advised them at the time that the logistical problems were a nightmare.
This is not a perfect world filled with perfect people, this idea is impossible and is doomed to failure.
Care Homes are not perfect but if one looks at the thousands of satisfied customers it has easily proven itself as good value for money.There really isn,t a better alternative one only needs to look at the NHS geariatric ward alternative at the Mid Staffs Hospital which is miles more expensive and miles worse