Social care expert responds to NAO report: care can be improved through fair pay and conditions for carers

Submitted by sglenister on Thu, 08/02/2018 - 14:45

08 February 2018

The National Audit Office (NAO) today revealed an increase in emergency admissions of 87,000 in 2015-16, massively overshooting the government's target of a 106,000 reduction in admissions and costing £311 million in additional funds.

Dr Lydia Hayes, a Cardiff University expert on labour standards in care work and author of the Institute of Employment Rights (IER) report 8 Good Reasons Why Adult Social Care Needs Sectoral Collective Bargaining, said poor working conditions for care workers are central to the provision of good quality care.

"Politicians must stop using the idea of social care and health integration as a means to fudge key issues and create confusion," she said.

"Social care urgently needs better funding and sustained attention to job quality. The greatest asset to the social care industry is its workforce.

"Quality social care can only be provided by a well-trained and well-respected workforce in secure and well-paid employment.

"Fixing the problem of insecure work, lack of training and low pay must be a priority."

In her report for the IER, Dr Hayes found:

  • There is conclusive evidence that poor-quality care is strongly associated with poor-quality employment for carers.
  • There is evidence of employers misleading workers as to their employment rights entitlements (such as requesting that they do not ask for annual leave).
  • A third of care workers do not even receive basic induction training.
  • Zero-hour contracts are an industry norm and staff turnover is extremely high (half of all new recruits quit within a year).
  • Two-thirds of people think the standard of social care is inadequate in the UK, and an even larger proportion think politicians consider the welfare of older people a low priority.

Dr Hayes said:

"My study showed that most people are convinced politicians place a low-priority on the welfare of our older people, and it is time the government proved them wrong by promoting and supporting negotiations between employers' associations and trade unions to start identifying and implementing reasonable standards for pay, conditions and training of care workers."

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