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Posts tagged ‘carers’

How (not) to chose a carer – Part 2

Read this before you employ a carer

Until you trust a carer, never leave them in a room alone where you have money, medication (especially if it is opioid-based), jewelry or small valuable objects. I feel so sad to write this, but over the years I have had over £2,000 worth of property stolen as well as money and medication. I’ve had food “disappear” too, as well as cutlery, though both of these items may well just have landed up in the trash.

Some carers can be very acquisitive. I nearly always have a box of things ready for my daughter and grandsons to take home with them when they visit. I’ve had two carers in particular who would always ask if they could take things from the box to send back to their home country. Both knew my daughter and the boys, but would always try their luck!

Employing carers through Direct Payments is an option encouraged by many Local Authorities (LAs). But wonderful as that sounds it can prove to be a complete nightmare. Some of the pitfalls I and others have come across include; not been allocated enough money to enable you to pay a carer the Living Wage. Another issue can be dealing with pay roll, especially if you employ more than one carer. I landed up with a tax bill of over £400 because there had been an error made in calculating my employee’s tax. My carer had given the correct info to the payroll company but they would accept no responsibility and as the employer I had to foot the bill!

Someone I know employed a carer who had previously worked for her via an Agency used by her LA. The carer concerned had been with my friend for over 18 months and she was happy with her. The Agency was closing down so my friend decided to move to Direct Payments. The Carer produced a wage slip with all her details on it, including her NI number, she showed a passport which entitled her to be in the UK, and a valid DBS check.

Over a year later my friend was visited as part of a spot-check audit and to her horror was told the NI number her carer was using was not valid & she was accused of deliberately employing someone who had no right to work in the UK! The carer “disappeared” back to her own country – it appeared she had been using someone else’s documents. The stress & distress this caused my friend was horrendous.

The UK government requires anyone employing a staff to enrol them on a pension scheme, something else that can add a further level of stress. Many LAs have a local organisation that helps with these issues, IPBN is one, but other LAs seem to provide little help or the organisation who in theory helps with this is so underfunded that there is a long waiting list for their services. Another consequence of Government cuts!

There is a great website which is well worth reading if this is something you or someone you know are considering doing.

The experiences of myself and friends who have the cognitive ability and strength of will to employ their own carers are shocking enough, but imagine the difficulty of doing all of this for an aged family member when you live far away. I know many who have struggled with this – and eventually have found everything to difficult and moved their relative into a care facility.

One of the best prices of advice I can give is to suggest people employ Trainee nurses, or Nurses who have trained abroad, but are awaiting their UK registration. My experience is that they often make the best carers, they are motivated and want to learn. Because of my own nursing background I’ve be able to help and support them with written work, or just been there as a listening ear when they were struggling. The other thing I’ve found myself doing is acting as a mentor in helping them deal with difficult clients, family members or employers! This has been great for me as I’ve felt useful again, and I hope it’s given them the support they needed.

Choosing a carer can be a lottery, but if you manage to find a great one, they are worth their weight in gold.

How (not) to chose a carer – Part 1

Finding the right carer can be like crossing a minefield

I have needed carers to help me for over 10 years now and these are some of the things I’ve learnt.

If you chose to use an Agency you will be able to meet with a number of different companies to see which one is able to best meet your needs.

However, if your care is organised by Social Workers, you or you family will have little choice as to which Agency provides your care needs as this is decided for you by your LA (Local Authority). But most importantly, you do still have a choice over who comes into your home.

If you find a carer disrespectful or rude or they do not understand your needs or provide poor care, you have a right to refuse to have that carer back again.

Because care work is so poorly paid a high percentage of agency carers are from outside the UK. My experience is that many do not either speak or understand sufficient English to be able to meet my needs. And if I’m struggling to work with them, heaven help anyone who is deaf or has impaired vision or speech!

I have spent almost all of my working life employing Nurses and carers from ethnically diverse backgrounds – so I’m well used to making sure care staff can be easily understood by their colleagues and the residents they care for. Also I often had a good number of applicants for each job. However Agencies today are usually so pressured to provide a service that they take on staff whose English is not as good as it should be.

Carers are in our homes for a short fixed time only and they always seem to be rushing to get to their next client. An Agency I used recently sent me a carer who was good – but every time she got delayed at a previous client’s house she missed my visit – leaving me with no breakfast and unable to take the pills I need to have with food. My pain levels increased dramatically, impacting on the rest of my day. After 3 mornings of this – I had no alternative but to ask the agency not to send me that carer again and made the decision to go back to directly employing someone.

The example I’ve just used is fairly extreme, but often it’s been really simple things that carers have struggled with – not burning food – making sure food is cooked properly & served on a hot plate or bowl. Making sure I have the right cutlery. Washing up is a very basic task, but yet I’ve often found that I’ve need to check that dishes and cutlery are washed properly.

I’ve had carers who have refused to do any domestic work, ie cleaning or hoovering, even if that has been part of the work they are contracted to do. I’ve had a carer pull a Dyson so roughly that she has broken the hose – and then denied she had done so – the agency refused to take responsibility for the damage, and whilst I was still arguing with their insurers – the agency lost the contact with the borough I lived in and went bust – so I ended up very out of pocket.

For a time one London Borough where I lived paid a company to undertake shopping at Tesco’s for clients. For the 3 months I used them I don’t think I ever got the right order! One day when my flat front door and step were being painted the delivery guy walked onto the step and left a large black boot print on my carpet and slammed my front door so hard he made a hole in the wall of my hall! As soon as I realised I called the agency & the Council – the agency were less than helpful and I only got a very small settlement.

There are good agency carers, but I no know it can take time for me to find the carer who can best meet my needs. I have used 6 or 7 agencies so far and only one sent me a great carer from the outset, with others I went though at between 5 or 8 people to get someone who was able to care for me properly.

This is the first of two blog posts on this topic.

Part 2 will follow shortly.

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