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STUC 2014 Dundee

High standards of elderly care need well paid, well trained staff

Sam Macartney
Sam Macartney

Congress once again condemned short-term cost “saving” practices which undermine the care of older people in Scotland and the STUC will press the Scottish Government and the Labour Party to take action to end such practices.

UNISON’s amendment highlighted the need for a well paid, well trained and secure workforce to achieve high standards of care, and pointed to the important role of trade unions in improving staff confidence and the quality of care.

UNISON’s Sam Macartney said, “The idea that if you treat people well you’ll get better work out of them shouldn’t be a controversial one. Neither should the idea that our elderly and vulnerable deserve the best possible care.

“Sadly, however, there are far too many employers in the private, voluntary and public sector who don’t seem to agree,” warned Sam.

“They will say that they are providing the best possible care, but when they talk about their staff, the terms they use are more likely to feature words like ‘cost effective’ or ‘time efficient’ rather than ‘caring’ and ‘dedicated’.

“That’s not because staff aren’t caring or dedicated. It’s just that is not what matters to their bosses. They aren’t people delivering intimate care to the old and frail. They are a cost to be controlled.”

Sam reminded Congress that the private and voluntary care home industry is ultimately dependent on the public purse that if the living wage was made a part of all public contracts, that would at least exclude the most greedy of those who compete on price, not quality.

He slammed the use of zero hours contracts and their impact not just on the workers but also on the older people they care for.

“We in this hall know that the most effective way of giving staff a voice and insisting on both decent working conditions and maintaining standards, is to join a union and make sure your workplace is organised.

“We know that Congress, but it’s the task of all of us to get out and make sure that everyone knows it. Because maintaining and improving standards depends on it. And if we are lucky enough to get old, so will we.

Date 15 April 2014

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