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Pay our Silent Army what they deserve
The chatter in the office this week has been about the weather and how bad the conditions are and how they are meant to worsen. We sit and bemoan the weather whilst drinking our tea in our warm offices. And thoughts turn automatically to the Homecare staff battling the wind, rain, hail, snow, and oh - don’t forget those dark nights.
The Commandos of Care
And my heart goes out to them. To complete a difficult job in the best of circumstances is hard. But to do that in any weather on every day of the year is commando-style tough.
In recent years the weather conditions have been extreme. The snow has been 6 inches high and because of that, services elsewhere have stopped. Day centres have closed, local transport has stopped, and schools and councils have closed due to the weather conditions.
But our Homecare workers still march on. They are a silent army working in our communities and neighbourhoods and they do not stop for one minute. They work around the clock to care and support people in the place where they want to be - their own home.
In the past three weeks I have heard that two homecare workers locally have been mugged whilst out at work. This brings the point home of how vulnerable these workers are, walking the streets of an evening when there is an increased risk of crime.
And it is for all these reasons that I support paying Homecare workers the Living Wage. The media focus recently has been on payrates for Homecare workers, and ensuring that they receive the National Minimum Wage - which is the very very least they deserve.
The Government needs to recognise and acknowledge the risk these workers face on a daily basis and act accordingly through improved funding and ethical commissioning strategies.
Communities need to fight for these highly skilled and dedicated individuals that care for our most vulnerable and frail by encouraging their Councils and Local MPs to sign up to the UNISON Ethical Care Charter. The Charter requires councils to “ensure that homecare workers are paid a living wage and for their travel time, and enjoy better working conditions that allow them to provide a higher standard of care”.
Homecare workers have a silent commitment to ensure service is delivered continuously around the year and without fanfare. They do not seek recognition for the job they do.
We all have a responsibility to ensure our Silent Army is paid what they deserve.