UK Residential Care Workers' Seminar 10 November - A First-hand Account by Nicole Stanfield-Caile
On 10 November, I was privileged to attend at UNISON Centre London the Residential Care Seminar. Many of the attendees worked in children’s and adult’s learning disabilities care, so it was really great that myself and the other Somerset County Branch attendees could represent elderly residential care.
The morning started with introductions and talks from Chris, the chair of the Social Care Forum, Matthew, an officer in the Social Care Forum, and Rachel, a journalist from Community Care.
Matthew spoke about the home care survey which had been done to determine the ethical care charter for home care workers. He talked about the challenges facing home care workers and how their survey responses were drafted into the charter. He also talked about how they got councils to adopt the charter. He said that 21 councils had adopted the charter, and an evaluation by Southwark Council found evidence of improvement of quality of service, and improved retention, after adopting the charter. In Islington, after their council adopted the charter, turnover went from 10% to 3%. I found these facts to be great evidence that a charter is necessary and actually works, and plan on using these statistics in promoting the ethical care charter for residential care.
Rachel spoke about the correlation between support for staff and the quality of care in residential homes. They had analysed 200 CQC reports and did a survey of 260 UNISON members. She spoke about how good training and supervision can mean the difference between a “good” rated home and one that “needs improvement.” Also mentioned were low staffing levels and low rates of pay, which could be connected to lower CQC ratings. She brought up some good questions for considering our own additions to the ethical care charter, including asking how often training is at our work, and what is considered good supervision? We discussed this informally.
After these talks we were treated to a surprise visit from Dave Prentis who gave a very motivational talk. He spoke about care workers’ rights as being the biggest issue that UNISON will take on. He said that people in this country deserve good social care.
After this, we had some workshops to determine the issues we would like to see addressed on an ethical care charter. We had the categories of Pay and Conditions, Care Quality, Staffing, and Training and Supervision. Our group was encouraged to think of as many charter points as we could, relating to each category. Frequent points which came up amongst every group were: Pay increases reflecting cost of living, Employers pay for any registration or DBS checks needed for job, New employees should be trained adequately before starting work, Training should be done face-to-face and not through DVD or online, Staff levels should be increased to focus on person-centred care instead of a system of tasks, Risk assessments should be in place for residents, etc. There were many suggestions like these. After we wrote them all, each group discussed their choices and hung the sheets on the wall. We then all went around with stickers to pick out the 8 points that we liked best. This would help those creating the charter to narrow down what we at the seminar really want on it.
After this, we had another workshop in groups to brainstorm how we would present, promote, and encourage the care charter once it is made. We came up with different campaigns we could run, as well as ideas for flyers, posters, tying in with other campaigns, events, etc.
We were then told before leaving that the charter would be launched sometime in the new year, in Westminster, and launched in Scotland separately.
Overall, I enjoyed the day. It was fantastic to meet and speak with other members and stewards and to listen to their challenges at the workplace to discover how alike or different they are to mine. I was also grateful to be able to contribute my ideas to such an important document. I felt like I was a part of something very big. The visit by Dave Prentis was also a nice surprise and helped to motivate me further! All in all it was a fantastic seminar and I can’t wait to see the results of our hard work in the new Residential Ethical Care Charter.
Nicole Stanfield-Caile, Steward at Moorhaven, Somerset Care
Somerset County Branch of UNISON