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From The Socialist newspaper, 23 November 2016

"I don't always feel that I'm a carer anymore" - a day in the life

photo Chris Marchant (Creative Commons)

photo Chris Marchant (Creative Commons)   (Click to enlarge)

A care worker, almost anywhere in England

On 12-13 November I attended Socialism 2016. I have been to this event before but never felt the need to say anything. However this time I could not keep quiet. I have worked in healthcare for many years, mainly in nursing homes.

I love my job, but things have changed. The home where I am now employed is run by a private company which appears to put profit before the safety and well-being of both staff and residents.

The company does not pay sick pay, so when we had an outbreak of diarrhoea and vomiting last year, which affected many of the staff, we had to take time off for which we didn't get paid. I lost a week's pay. I know of others who came to work ill as they could not afford to lose this money. The reason given by the company for not paying sick pay was that they think it will encourage people to take time off!

They have also said they had been considering introducing sick pay but then had to pay the minimum wage which was costing them 2 million (the company made over 20 million in profit last year).

As the staff representative, I have asked why we cannot get paid a little more when we are short staffed and was told that if they did, it would encourage us to work understaffed. In practice this happens on a regular basis as they do not recruit agency staff. I do not know any member of staff who would put money above the safety and well-being of the people in our care.

What this policy means is that staffing numbers are calculated on the basis of funding, not the needs of the residents, which the company claims is its prime objective. This policy also means that people who are in the last stages of their lives are left on their own as there is nobody free to sit with them. People who cannot help themselves are hurried with food and drinks.

Profit before care means that residents who have an incontinence problem are only given three pads a day by the NHS (the home is meant to give more). This means one in the morning, one before going to bed and one in the night. Often this is not enough and we regularly have to take pads from other people or keep the pad on longer than is hygienic. Where is the dignity for our residents in that!

I once saw an ad that said you could make 1 million from owning a care home and yes maybe by putting profit first you can, but that's not care.

I love my job but with more and more responsibility put on us and fewer and fewer staff, I don't always feel that I'm a carer anymore, but just the person who hurries to get your mum or dad up, washed, dressed and given breakfast in the 25 minute slot allotted. Where is the care in that?

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The coronavirus crisis has laid bare the class character of society in numerous ways. It is making clear to many that it is the working class that keeps society running, not the CEOs of major corporations.

The results of austerity have been graphically demonstrated as public services strain to cope with the crisis.

The government has now ripped up its 'austerity' mantra and turned to policies that not long ago were denounced as socialist. But after the corona crisis, it will try to make the working class pay for it, by trying to claw back what has been given.

  • The Socialist Party's material is more vital than ever, so we can continue to report from workers who are fighting for better health and safety measures, against layoffs, for adequate staffing levels, etc.
  • When the health crisis subsides, we must be ready for the stormy events ahead and the need to arm workers' movements with a socialist programme - one which puts the health and needs of humanity before the profits of a few.
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In The Socialist 23 November 2016:


Socialist Party news and analysis

Cash for rich and royals, cuts for the 99%

Tories drop 'pay to stay'

Tories plan pain with Brexit Autumn Statement

3.5bn on temporary housing for councils

'Just about managing': 2,500 worse off by 2020

Job figures mask casualisation

What We Saw


What we think

The Socialist Party and support for the Corbyn movement


Socialist Students

Fight back to save education!

Campaigning Socialist Students groups needed to hold student unions to account


N30 strike: five years on

Lessons of the 'N30' 2011 pension strike: when workers showed their power


International socialist news and analysis

USA: mass protests break out to #ResistTrump

Ireland: repeal the 8th Amendment - fight for abortion rights

Spain: Students' Union surges forward in historic congress

Hundreds rally to celebrate anniversary of Students' Union and Izquierda Revolucionaria

UN climate change summit: more hot air from Marrakech


Workplace news and analysis

"I don't always feel that I'm a carer anymore" - a day in the life

Southern Rail Strike


Socialist Party reports and campaigns

Reselection motion passed at Labour Party branch

Packed-out Socialist Party meetings hear American socialist and Black Lives Matter activist

School talk on the struggle for the vote and its importance today


Socialist readers' comments and reviews

The Socialist inbox

"I can't stop thinking about Socialism 2016 - it was truly brilliant"

Socialism 2016: what you thought


 

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triangleOur lives, our jobs, our future - Not safe in Tory hands

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Healthcare:

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