Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson is backing a parliamentary bid to end the scandal of underpayment of homecare workers - many of whom illegally receive below the national minimum wage - and he is calling on Sefton Council to sign up to become an Ethical Care Council.
Mr Esterson has written to Sefton Council chief executive Margaret Carney to call for the council to sign up to UNISON’s ethical care charter which sets out to establish a minimum baseline for the safety, quality and dignity of homecare.
The charter urges councils, from the commissioning stage onwards, to ensure employment conditions allow home care providers to give their clients the best care possible.
By signing up to the charter, and becoming an Ethical Care Council, Sefton would pledge to only commission care from providers who:
- Give workers the freedom to provide appropriate care and be given the time to talk to their clients.
- Allocate clients the same homecare worker(s) wherever possible.
- Match the time allocated to visits to the particular needs of the client. In general, 15-minute visits will not be used as they undermine the dignity of the clients.
- Pay homecare workers for their travel time, their travel costs and other necessary expenses such as mobile phone use.
- Schedule visits so that homecare workers are not forced to rush their time with clients or leave their clients early to get to the next one on time.
Sefton Central Labour MP Bill Esterson said he wanted Sefton to sign up to the charter to "tackle the homecare crisis".
Bill said: "This whole homecare crisis is not only a national outrage, it is a Sefton outrage.
"We have homecare workers illegally being paid below the national minimum wage which is having a direct impact on quality of care that some the most vulnerable people in our communities receive.
"The recent Unison report, Time To Care, found that: 79.1% of respondents reported that their work schedule is arranged in such a way that they either have to rush their work or leave a client early to get to their next visit on time; 57.8% of respondents were not paid for their travelling time between visits, which results in many being paid below the national minimum wage; 41.1% are not given specialist training to deal with their clients‚ specific medical needs, such as dementia and stroke related conditions.; and only 43.7% of respondents see fellow homecare workers on a daily basis at work. This isolation is not good for morale and impacts on the ability to learn and develop in the role.
"Urgent action needs to be taken to address this crisis, and that is why I have written to Margaret Carney to call for Sefton Council to sign up to UNISON’s ethical care charter.
"Our homecarers deserve more and the people who rely on their care deserve better."