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Those in the industry have been aware for some time that our care and support staff are being increasingly pressured to complete tasks, that perhaps 5 years ago would be considered a district nurses role.
The ongoing and alarming cuts to community specialists and district nursing teams have left a huge void in our communities. For those that have gone, their skills and capabilities are not being replaced and are sorely missed. But if you take away such an important and vital service, what services are left for its replacement? What strategy is in place to redress the balance quickly? It seems the responsibility rests for care and support providers to upskill their workforce, which comes at a cost and a time when providers are already struggling with margins. So are we asking too much? Is the workforce – already surrounded with negative publicity - doomed to fail miserably?
I know from my own experience of the expectations people have on care workers and what they can do. I recently had a phone call from a family member of a Service User. She asked me to contact the care worker and tell him to tell our Service User that his mother had died the previous night. I attempted to explain that our care workers were not trained to break this type of news and the reasons why I could not ask a member of staff to undertake such a highly sensitive and emotive task. Not long after our phone call was abruptly ended (not by me might I add), a social worker contacted me with the clear intention of changing my mind.
Homecare workers have many tasks included in their roles, an endless list that continues to grow. The Cavendish review last year highlighted the fast pace in which the role was changing and criticised the lack of standardised training across the sector.
Work is being completed by Health Education England (HEE) and Skills for Care on the Care Certificate, which will ensure that workers are being inducted to the same high standard right across the sector. A pilot process will be completed by the end of this year with a national roll out due for 2015 if successful.
I am hoping that the implementation of a basic level of induction into the industry will help Providers keep abreast of the rapidly changing market sector. At a time when it seems the only strategy in place to redress decreasing community services is to rely more heavily on our already stretched Homecare workforce.