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14 / The voice of home care workers

I am yet to find time to write this up into a proper article, but this topic is one of the key reasons for setting up Homecare Workers' Group. For now, these quotes provide an overview:

"The structural silencing of homecare workers" (Hayes, 2017, p.15)

“For homecare workers, legal protections at work and legal protection of their work are frequently problematic, inaccessible or unenforced”... “an occupational group who are systematically denied protections or privileges that are routinely available to others” (Hayes, 2017, p.1)

“Not surprisingly given the poor conditions they work under, individual social care staff often appear to have low self-esteem” (Cavendish, 2013, p.21)

“why do social care workers put up with often poor, and in some cases unlawful, conditions at work, especially when they are in such high demand?”... “at 20 per cent, rates of union membership are relatively low among frontline care workers (this falls to 15 per cent for social care workers in the private sector)” (Cominetti, 2023, p.4-5)

“Low levels of union membership and weak employee voice in the sector exacerbate the difficulty some Care Workers have in exercising their rights. Trade union membership levels average 24% of workers, far lower than Care Managers, which reach 58%” (Kingsmill, 2014, p.31)

“Social care is delivered by thousands of mainly private companies” whose employees have no contact with one another (Health and Social Care Committee, 2020, p.12)

“Employees are also isolated from their colleagues, leading to low levels of collegiate support. Indeed, 43.7% of workers say that they hardly ever saw their colleagues at work, and often worked in physical isolation from other staff members” (Kingsmill, 2014, p.31)

““I have good relationships and feel supported but I don’t know the rest of the team who support my clients – we’re like ships that pass in the night.”...“I can go several days without seeing another member of staff” (Cavendish, 2013, p.31)

"care workers’ concerns about substandard care delivered by colleagues have been dismissed or, if on a zero-hours contract, they feel threatened with getting fewer hours if they are seen as troublemakers” (Koehler, 2014, p.20)

“here was an implicit, and in some cases explicit questions about the suitability of workers who challenge poor wages or ask for better pay to work in the sector by many employers. Some participating employers expressed views that those who do so might not be suitable to work in the sector as they may lack the right qualities of being LTC workers” (Hussein, 2017, p.1822)

"Data collection processes which do not actively seek out the opinions of homecare workers, and do not actively support the free expression of those opinions, produce data with the potential to silence further the voices and interests of homecare workers" (Hayes, 2017, p.15)

"social care workers lack structural power in the workplace and for many, the only way they can assert themselves is by exiting the profession. This outcome is clearly a bad one from both the worker’s (many love their jobs) and society’s (there is an acute and enduring need for social care workers) point of view” (Cominetti, 2023, p.5)

"This workforce of 1.8 million people in England is almost invisible" (Kingsmill, 2014, p.3)

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