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Thursday, 27 October 2016

MSPs urge action after committee hears care workers 'embarrassed' to reveal job

Written by The Press Association

Concerns about the viability of Scotland's care workers have been raised with the Health Secretary after MSPs found some are "embarrassed" to reveal what they do for a living and struggle with poor terms and conditions.

The Scottish Parliament's Health and Sport Committee heard evidence from social care workers and MSPs have now written a letter to Shona Robinson calling for her to address issues including the perceived lack of value placed on the role of carers.

The letter states: "Many were embarrassed to tell people, including friends, what they did for a living."

Other concerns raised include vast differences in what staff are paid for travel between jobs and whether they are paid at all, and if they are given sick pay.

Care providers and regulators told the inquiry they had not been involved in the roll-out of the Scottish Living Wage, and further concerns were raised about the length of time taken to commission services.

The committee said it was suggested to them that there would be a need for 60,000 care workers to meet increasing future demand, and these concerns were compounded by implications of Brexit on workforce planning and an absence of data on the existing workforce, including the number of EU nationals.

Committee convener Neil Findlay said: "As part of this inquiry we heard directly from social care workers who day in and day out provide high-quality care for the most vulnerable people in our society, often in very difficult circumstances.

"We were told about their commitment to the job but disappointingly that some aspects of their terms and conditions were below what you would expect in this day and age. Worryingly, the workers we heard from also felt undervalued and not listened too, despite the demanding and vital role they perform.

"This is a particularly critical time for the future of our social care workforce. As our population ages we need to start planning now for the workforce we'll need in 10 to 20 years' time.

"Fortunately a large proportion of the current workforce comes from the rest of the EU. We are calling on the Scottish Government to do all it can in ensuring that EU nationals working in Scotland will be able to remain here.

"If social care continues to be perceived in such a poor light and the career path offered remains poor, then the vision about delivering person-centred care in the community will remain words that cannot be delivered upon."

A Scottish Government spokesperson said: "We are working with Cosla and care providers to deliver a major programme of reform to adult social care, which will consider workforce issues and new models of care and support.

"We have taken action to protect and grow our social care services, including paying the Living Wage to adult care workers, by investing a further £250 million to health and social care partnerships.

"Through this, this Government is enabling, for the first time, all adult care workers in Scotland to be paid the real Living Wage from October 1. We know this will benefit up to 40,000 people, and we are providing support to commissioners to make absolutely sure this happens.

"We will respond fully to the committee's letter in due course."

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