You’ve probably not seen the petition about home care and if you have you probably haven’t signed it. Not many people have. At the last count it had 22861 signatures which is one of the lower totals on the Government website. The highest is about meningitis vaccines for all children which has got over 700000 signatures; that’s a good cause, I’ll support that. But the next highest is a petition to ban Donald Trump from the UK which has got nearly 600000. Really?
There’s a petition to allow parents to take up to 2 weeks term time leave in order to go on holiday which has got 127197 signatures. These people are having a laugh but I’m not. They already get 13 weeks holiday in a year and they think they should have another 2. It’s no wonder the country is going to hell in a hire car, as Albert said to me yesterday.
But here’s the thing. There’s a real crisis in home care in this country and hardly anyone seems to care. As you know I’m not well-off and I complain about my pay and not getting travel time paid even though I say it’s not about the money which is true but I still have bills to pay. I don’t get much money because the agency doesn’t get much money. I know everyone thinks they do but I’ve seen their offices and the cars they drive and how many people they employ and it doesn’t look like they’re swimming in money so I tend to believe them. Okay they tendered for their contracts and if they didn’t think they could do it for the price they tendered then they shouldn’t have tendered but that’s not really true is it? I mean, it’s their business and if they didn’t tender they wouldn’t have any business and wouldn’t get any contracts so then where would I be? Out on my ear that’s where.
The fact is there’s not enough money because the Government is cutting back on the money they give to local Councils which is squeezing the price they want to pay for home care which means low wages for me and short visits to my Service Users which means your Mum or Granddad don’t have the quality of life that they should have or could have.
But people care more about having a holiday during term time or about a public inquiry into West Ham’s deal to take over the Olympic Stadium (25529 signatures) and they care a damn sight more about making cannabis legal (236997) than they do about old people.
Will I be a better carer because I get a bit more money each week? No, I don’t think so. Will I try harder or be nicer to your Mum and Granddad? No, I don’t think so. Will I be extra gentle when I wipe their bum or feed them some cottage pie or comb their hair or clean up the cat’s poo or make sure they have a drink that they can reach and that they have a blanket to keep them warm and the door is shut when I leave so that they’re safe and sleep better in their beds? No, I don’t think so. Will I be more cheerful when I say good morning and try harder to smile when I see them and say something to make them laugh and make sure they get the right medication at the right time? No, I don’t think so. But just like a little stone dropped into a lake sends out little ripples which eventually reach and brush the edges of the shore no matter how gently and no matter how long afterwards, if there are more people coming to work in home care because they get the rewards and the agency has more money to spend on staffing and training and decent gloves and computer systems and quality programmes then the better everyone’s lives can be.
And that includes your Mum and your Granddad and Albert and Agatha and Maude and Vera and Lionel and even Lady Gaga.