Invest more in making caring job to be proud of
This letter sent to the Star was written by Mrs D Williams, Sheffield, S25
I feel I must put pen to paper in response to the article published Monday, May 6, in regards to bad home help.
I currently work for a home care agency after nearly 17 years in retail as I was getting very fed up with abusive customers and shoplifters so I wanted a role with a bit more job satisfaction. I quickly learned that carers have a very bad press, the hours are very long often 7am-10pm without an adequate break and doing 80+ miles a day. Each call is given a time depending on the nature of the call, some have a medication call and with others it’s full personal care and meals. What people don't realise for example if your first two morning calls go over by even 10 minutes, you are playing catch up for the rest of the day inevitably ending up working through any breaks we have, this is even before tackling school traffic, road works, accidents and breakdowns to try and get to clients on time!
I had to change my car insurance when I began my job as I was using my own car and needed special insurance at a cost of £120 extra a year and although most care agencies pay usually 20p-25p per mile in fuel allowance this only covers a small fraction of what you actually pay, any wear and tear to the car is also paid for by the carer. Wages are poor in comparison to the job we do and as I have mentioned some carers work 15 hours a day but only get paid for 10 as you don't get paid between jobs, I do not know of any other job where employees are used in this way.
I recently over heard two young ladies talking and one asked the other "are you still looking for a job, why don't you become a carer?" the other lady replied "what wiping old peoples bottoms? I don't think I could do it but if I cant find anything else I might", I felt very saddened to hear this but not surprised as the stigma of the carer role is all to evident to me on a daily basis, HOWEVER there are a large proportion of carers who love the job as do I, it’s extremely rewarding knowing that you have made a difference, coming away from an elderly person knowing that you have given the best care possible, you have washed them dressed them given them correct medication, a hot meal and had a good chat to them as often the carer may be the only person they see and when you leave them at night they are tucked up in bed safe and warm.
One thing that is very evident to me is the huge turnover of staff that care agencies have once they find out that it’s not just wiping bums it’s a long hard day for not much pay which results in the elderly seeing different carers all the time and feeling very unsettled.
There are going to be a lot more elderly people to look after in the future as we are all living longer, so isn't it about time the government and the local councils invest more money and time making the caring role a job to be proud of and not not a job to have as the last resort. Our elderly people deserve the best care and as the role as the carer we are trying to give that with the tools we are given.