The two women who arrived at my till looked close to exhaustion and they wanted to void their feelings of contempt at the management of the company they worked for. I was a sympathetic ear. They worked for Care UK one of the largest care companies in the UK. They had previously worked for Sue Ryder who had lost out in the contract to Care UK some time ago. Home Care UK were recently the centre of a Panorama programme of abuse of the elderly at a Bristol care home.
The women were caustic about the management of the company describing the management as "Twats". According to them the management were incompetent and lazy. The training of new front line staff was negligible and the workload crushing. One of the women told me that the company practised " call cramming which she said was illegal. As many as 10 old people were seen over the course of a morning with workers rushing from home visit to home visit.
These women also mentioned the impact on their pay and conditions, which had deteriorated. Costs had been driven down as the company which offered the lowest value had been taken on with a damaging impact on both the care offered and the impact on staff who had to put up with gruelling schedules.
This account is timely as a soon to be published interim report by the Equalities Commission shows the terrible care which elderly people have to endure. There are reports of people left in soiled clothing for long periods. Of people left in their homes not visited and visited in very brief periods as the private companies rush home visits. One woman in the national report was seen by 32 different carers in a two-week period
The research also found that due to the strict time controls on visits, which could last as little as 15 minutes, some elderly patients had to choose between being washed or having a cooked meal.
The two women were adamant that under increasingly stressful circumstances they were trying to deliver decent home care but pressures the consequence of cost and work load were contributing to their worn out and demoralised state