GMB being the lead union within the residential care sector has a desire to improve the delivery of residential care in the UK from a social perspective and for the development opportunities for our members that work in the sector.
After years of visiting care homes and working with carers and providers, the main barriers to success in our opinion are around the lack of funding into the care sector from local and national government.
In order to attract the best candidates that have a desire to care and make a difference, the minimum wage level has to be pushed; the sector should be able to make their starting pay the living wage. More money and time needs to be injected into carer training; the training should be practical, meaningful and it should not just cover the dos and don’ts, but address the emotional needs of the residents as well as the practical needs.
The last element is staffing, although I’m sure that everything is put in place by our care providers to deal with the day to day needs of the resident i.e. feeding, washing, hygiene needs, there does not appear to be time to stop and chat, look at old photos, eat with the residents, reassure their families, watch a film, maybe read a book, all of the things we would want for our loved ones. A lot of carers expected this to be part of the role and a lot of good carers have left because there isn’t time for the quality of care they want to provide.
We believe there should be more transparency in the staff to residents’ ratio and more funding to provide extra staff to deliver a premium care package for the most vulnerable in our society.
I know that none of our care providers would argue with any of the points we are making, and their vision I’m sure would also include similar points, the only barrier is money. This is where we believe the campaign to fulfil the GMB Care Charter would assist the providers.
The campaign to highlight our aims will be targeted at Local Authorities and Government; the overall aim will be to bring in more funding or even look at the way the funding is distributed, either way we want to see the aims delivered with subsidies given to make them a reality.
The Big Plan
The first element of the campaign is to build a campaign pack that will consist of: —
Publications documenting the Carers prospective
Postcards for a postcard campaign to aim at the public
Pledge cards – documenting the three aims.
The packs will be used at a number of political engagements. To engage with the public and Carers to build momentum and engagement, as these will be the people that have the human interest stories and attract the most interest from politicians and press alike. In order for us to build the campaign pack we will be looking to interview as many carers as possible. This will help us to compile the human interest stories and the crude statistics, that will be the body of the pack, it also help us to engage with the people delivering the care to see what their take is on the charter and to see if we have it right etc.
To do this we are asking for co-operation from you as a provider. We want to visit as many homes as possible over a six day period in January and an eight day period in February. We would ask that for these visits, release to meet with us is given in turn to every carer. We would look to spend 10 minutes with each, the purpose on this occasion is not to recruit but to raise awareness of the campaign and interview with consent as many of the carers as possible.
In order to do this we would need the full co-operation from Home Managers, a full staff list to work with the Manager to see every carer, this may also mean we will need to mop up any individuals we miss on the main two days.
I anticipate we will cover a total of two homes over the two days, so six homes in January and then eight homes in February, hitting all shifts and coming back for any unusual shift patterns etc.
We are laying down an Early Days Motion asking MP’s to sign up to our aims.
We will be holding a number of engagement sessions locally and in parliament with MP’s and candidates.
We will be delivering a petition to No. 10.
We will run a postcard campaign so the public can ask their MP to sign up to the EDM and much more as the opportunities arise during the campaign.
We intend to take the GMB trailer on tour to town centres in our Region, promoting the campaign, getting support in the way of signing the petition, writing to their MP or signing a postcard. We intend raise awareness at pensioner conventions and any community event that will have an interest.
As previously stated, we want to publish carers’ thoughts and struggles. We will hold events where carers can talk to the politicians etc. We will ask carers that are a member of the GMB to pass motions through their branch to congress. We will also ask them to sign up to the campaign and encourage others. The Plan is a work in progress and we are in the early stages of planning so some aspects may change or be added.