Inadequately trained homecare workers being required to carry out nursing tasks

Unison union claims homecare staff now have to fulfil nurses' roles, which include stoma and catheter care

Homecare workers are carrying out stoma and catheter care without adequate training, according to Unison. 

The union’s 15 Minutes of Shame: Stories from Britain's Homecare Frontline report, published today, features accounts from homecare workers that highlight problems in England, Scotland and Wales. These include poor training, a lack of time with clients, zero-hours contracts and ‘poverty pay’. 

One worker said tasks now undertaken by care staff, such as stoma and catheter care and use of feeding tubes, had previously been carried out by district nurses.

She said: ‘In my experience staff are not supported and do not always receive the relevant training before being expected to carry out these tasks.’

One care worker described inadequate training from a community nurse in how to help a man with bowel cancer deal with his stoma bag.

Another said: ‘I feel most new workers are not given enough training in most aspects, including basic everyday skills such as cooking and eligible handwriting. 

‘If they do not have these basic skills the clients get stressed, more so if they have dementia.’

Unison has written to new care minister Alistair Burt urging the government to address problems facing the homecare workers and the people who depend on them. 

Other accounts in the report reveal care workers a wide range of tasks in many carers' remits, including wakening, washing and feeding clients – all in the space of 15 minutes – and rates of pay that work out as less than the national minimum wage. 

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said ‘the new government must listen to the voices of the people at the heart of this crisis’. 

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The truth is we have a strong, independently regulated care sector which delivers good and often excellent care to the vast majority of people who use it, via a highly committed and skilled workforce. 

‘Care visits should always meet the needs of patients and should never be inappropriately short – it is wrong to allow less than half an hour to help people eat, get dressed or get out of bed.

‘We have also been absolutely clear it is unacceptable if companies do not pay their staff the national minimum wage — where this is found to be happening, such companies will be taken to court and fined.’

To read the full Unison report, click here.


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