More and more social care workers are becoming subject to professional regulation. This means that workers are subject to a code of practice and must adhere to a plethora of professional standards.
It is said that such regulation ensures high standards of care and that the public can be confident in the care that they, or their relatives, receive.
But what is the reality for a social care worker in a service that is increasingly viewed as chronically under funded?
Most social care workers are low paid, some below the minimum wage when travel time is taken into account, with very little training, working in a hugely stressful environment. These workers undertake crucial caring roles that are essential in order to allow those service users in their care to live as independent a life as possible. Without adequately provided and adequately funded social care the pressure on our NHS will only increase and the quality of life for disabled and elderly people will decrease.
A standard day for a care worker may involve assisting with personal care, administering medication and the use of complicated equipment and hoists. For older people, they very often rely on care workers to help them get up, wash, eat and provide companionship.
However, it is near impossible for care workers to carry out these duties to the high standards expected, due to the lack of investment. Budgetary constraints have meant the imposition of strict time limits on care visits and the scheduling of far too many visits within one short shift. Care workers are increasingly concerned about the impact this is having on vulnerable people in their care
In addition, the job comes with huge responsibilities from dealing with service users with profound and complex needs, to those who display severe challenging behaviour on a daily basis. For this level of responsibility the remuneration afforded care workers seems woefully inadequate.
With budget and time constraints, it’s inevitable that things will go wrong. When the worst does happen, employers and regulators, intent on ‘being seen to do something’ invariably will point the finger at the individual care worker rather than address the real problem of diminishing budgets and unreasonable expectations on staff. If a social care worker’s conduct is questioned, they too often face an uphill battle to keep their job, pay and career.
In these situations, it is important that social care workers have a voice, and are provided with adequate advice and representation. This is where Thompsons come in. Should something go wrong and an accusation of professional misconduct we are here to help.
When conducting these types of cases it is our job to provide workers with a voice. It is our goal when representing workers to ensure that their side of the story is put across and that they get the chance to explain their actions and the situation in which they found themselves.
It is essential to the future of a successful, ongoing, social care in Scotland that managers, regulators and the public at large are aware of the reality of these jobs. It is far too easy for care workers to be ignored and held to standards that in reality are impossible to meet.
With an aging population and a social care crisis it is healthcare workers that are paying the price. That should not be the case, and we are here to stand with social care workers and fight their corner.