Government must fix UK's 'broken' homecare system
In light of the recent Alzheimer’s Society campaign exposing the lack of dementia specific training for homecare workers, the Shadow Education Secretary calls for this ‘unbearable’ situation to be addressed.
Before being elected as the MP for Ashton-under-Lyne in 2015, I was a care worker with Stockport Council. I cared for vulnerable people every day and experienced first-hand the homecare system that hundreds of thousands of people use as their lifeline. I loved my job and the people I worked with. The daily experience of caring for someone was varied and rewarding and it is an experience that will always stay with me forever. It has made me the politician I am today.
For a decade, I was part of the small army – more than half a million - in the homecare sector, visiting people with dementia who make up sixty per cent of all those who receive homecare. That is an astonishing figure, one that’s hard to comprehend. We supported with medication, washing and dressing, eating and drinking, and helped with everyday activities, to ensure people could live at home for longer.
I was lucky.
Alzheimer’s Society’s latest Fix Dementia Care campaign has exposed a cycle where a lack of dementia specific training for homecare workers results in unbearable stress for people with dementia, their families and carers - and for the homecare workers themselves. The evidence shows more than one in three homecare workers have no dementia training. Forty-three per cent of homecare workers have asked for further dementia training – but disgracefully - more than half of those requests have been denied.
Homecare workers have repeatedly been left behind their NHS colleagues when it comes to receiving consistent, practical dementia training and knowledge. Without it, so many are expected to work with their hands, effectively, tied behind their backs. They are deprived the chance to fully understand the unique nature of dementia and cannot deliver person-centred, quality care.
Alzheimer’s Society’s investigation shows that properly trained and supported homecare can be a powerful ally to our NHS, reducing costly and unnecessary hospital admissions. Empowered and well-trained homecare workers could transform dementia care in this country, supporting people to live independently and in their own homes for longer.
But the homecare sector is operating in an ever impossible financial climate with training and development of staff is often first to be cut - a totally false economy.
The system is broken. Dementia is one of the biggest, growing challenges facing the homecare sector today and yet it is being treated as the poor relation. Many people with dementia are trying their best to remain in their own home but are being denied the proper care they need from well-trained professionals.
That’s why Alzheimer’s Society is calling on the Government to make dementia homecare a priority. Sign the Alzheimer’s Society petition and call on the Government to fix a broken homecare system.
Angela Rayner is the Shadow Education Secretary and MP for Ashton-under-Lyne