My old friend Mr Paul Burstow, is back in the news. (See an earlier blog where he is mentioned by clicking on “Confusion still Reigns” in the ARCHIVE dated November 2011).
Mr Burstow was the Care Minister from 2010 to 2012 and in that time little progress was made in improving care quality in residential homes. Since his re-shuffled demise, Mr Burstow has led a year long commission into residential care for the Demos think tank. It proposes to licence care workers as a way of improving standards of training. Perhaps Mr Burstow doesn’t know that the Registration Authorities have long asked for all care staff to have at least NVQ Level 2. Needless to say that has never been enforced, therefore little has changed.
All that licensing is likely to do is create another level of bureaucracy.
The report also calls for care workers to be paid the living wage of £7.65 an hour, (£8.80 in London). Currently around 80% of basic care staff earn £6.45 an hour, which is a key part of the problem. Low wages leads to high staff turnover and lack of continuity of care. This is an endemic problem in the residential care sector.
We, as a society, don’t care about care staff enough to pay them a decent wage, yet we expect them to do jobs that we would not wish to do ourselves for minimum wages.
Social Services and the NHS, who set and pay many of the fees for residential care, are not prepared to advocate higher fees to enable home owners to pay their care staff the level of pay paid to Local Authorities and NHS care workers.
Neither do I remember Mr Burstow recommending higher fees for residential care when he was Care Minister.