Gathering and listening to the experiences of home care workers is vitally important in designing a working and sustainable social care system. The homecare sector has the highest annual turnover of staff than any other sector in the UK; understanding the motivations and frustrations of those who work within care is key in addressing the recruitment and retention problem.
Lydia Hayes, a lecturer in law at Cardiff University, has written a book ‘Stories of Care: A Labour of Law’, which examines four key areas in the sector. The book is based on extensive interviews with 30 female care workers and so gives a frontline report on how they feel the system is or isn’t working. Hayes focusses on 4 key areas in the book; pay within the sector, insecurity of work, the love of the job and finally how workers engage with care policy. Hayes’ hopes that her book will be read by politicians, senior managers, trade unions, care campaigners and those involved in social policy development.
The book links well to the Unison report, ‘Time to Care’ which was written based on the feedback and experiences of 431 Unison and non-Unison workers in 2013. Their initial findings are similar to those found by Hayes.
“The responses showed a committed but poorly paid and treated workforce which is doing its best to maintain good levels of quality care in a system that is in crisis”
From that report Unison produced an ethical care charter in order to establish a minimum baseline for the safety, quality and dignity of care. They are encouraging councils to sign up to this. 30 Local Authorities (5 in Scotland, 25 in England) have signed up so far.
Both Hayes’ book and Unison’s report highlight the need to listen to frontline workers in order to improve the homecare system. By involving staff and in some cases the care recipient we can design sustainable and long term solutions to issues within homecare.
The ‘Time to Care’ report can be found:
The ethical care charter can be found:
The Guardian article on Lydia Hayes book can be found: