Home Care Privatisation Plan Attacked By Union

Plans by Leeds social services bosses to farm out more home care work to the private sector have angered council staff. Unison, the public service trade union, has pledged to campaign against the privatisation which it fears will put jobs at risk and damage the standard of care people receive. Some housekeeping home care – which includes cleaning and shopping – has already been handed to the private and voluntary sector. The latest proposed changes affect community support home care, which includes long-term personal care such as bathing and dressing provided to elderly and disabled people.

The council wants to move to the so-called Nottinghamshire model, under which council staff would provide care for only the initial six to eight weeks before the cases are given to private firms to provide longer term support.

Unison’s regional officer, Leonie Sharp, said: “Our members are deeply concerned that elderly people will be negatively affected by privatisation. Many people have had the same home care assistant for a number of years and built up an important relationship of trust and security.

“Privatisation will mean chopping and changing home care assistants. This can be very traumatic for elderly people when they do not know who will be coming to their home on the next visit.

“Our members do not know if their jobs and conditions are secure and the elderly service users do not know whose hands their welfare will be left in. It is a terrible way to treat staff and the public they serve, and we will seek support for a campaign against the privatisation to protect the service and those who provide it.”

One council home care worker, who did not wish to be named, said: “We do not believe the private sector can match us on the quality of care. There have been reports of the private sector not turning up, leaving clients who can do nothing for themselves helpless.”

Coun Peter Harrand, executive councillor for social services, said: “Our in-house staff have particular skills in providing specialist care for people and for helping them through periods of recovery.

“Our private contractors provide high-quality home care to thousands of people around Leeds every day. Providing high-quality home care to people who need it is far more important to me, than sterile arguments about public versus private.”