Here at WLLG we occasionally receive guest posts. Some are funny, others angry, but sometimes, just sometimes, we get one which hits us hard and makes us sit up and take notice. This is one of those posts. It was sent in anonymously and will stay that way, but that doesn’t mean it is anything other than very real.
Rachel looked after my wife’s gran when she was dying. She works for a private sector care agency and mainly supports people with significant dementia in their homes. She is compassionate, sensitive, incredibly hard working and skint. In the winter she can’t afford to fill her oil tank. She worries about how much her son will spend on his phone each month; margins are tight in all respects. Rachel comes and cleans for me for two hours a week. She does this because the care agency that employs her has changed her full time contract to a “zero hours” contract. This is now the industry norm due to decreasing income from private fee payers and public sector bodies. When the work is there she gets paid. When it isn’t she has to find alternative means of earning. Assuming a typical 20 hour week, I estimate she earns somewhere in the region of £8k per annum, with no holiday pay and only statutory sick pay. Her hours are variable, often late nights and weekend shifts are necessary. Rachel (with no hint of complaint) told me that she supports a widower with dementia to go shopping. His needs have become more complex and a shopping trip (his only time out of the house each week) takes two hours instead of one. She referred this to her care agency; that in turn referred it to social services who confirmed it is not part of the essential needs identified in her care plan. Net result she delivers the second hour of care and support in her own time for no pay.