…”Inter alia, you explained that the home is having difficulty recruiting carers and that carers and good quality carers are not applying for our posts.
I volunteered the opinion that whilst we are lucky in that many staff working for us do so despite the poor pay (as staff provide excellent service through a commitment to ensuring good quality of life for service users, despite the poor pay), we may have more success in recruiting and retaining decent staff if we offered the Living Wage. Given how much residents pay per week, I think it should be entirely possible for the home to pay carers the Living Wage.
The Living Wage is an initiative intending on reducing poverty in the UK. It has high profile, non-partisan support. As well as being morally right, it has important benefits for employers. Here are some benefits. An independent study proved that 80% of employers believe that paying the
Living Wage enhanced the quality of staff work, reduced absenteeism by 25% and that two thirds experienced improved recruitment and retention.
I want some of that. I want less absenteeism, easier and better recruitment with more and better quality applicants, and better retention. I think it would make a major difference to residents’ quality of life and experience of the service.
The Living Wage is currently £7.65 per hour outside London.
I can’t find any job adverts for Wharfedale, but for the next nearest care home (Champion House), there is currently a vacancy for a care assistant offering £6.31 per hour basic (i.e. the Minimum Wage) plus 25p per hour for relevant qualification in health and social care plus 20% enhancement for nights/weekend working. I.e. £6.31 per hour, rising to £6.56 for the NVQ for daytime work. This is just 82 to 86% of the Living Wage.
Wharfedale House (care home I live in) should be able to afford to pay the Living Wage.
On average, in England, the cost of providing residential care, including the care home operator’s slice of profit, is worked out at £563 per week
(Of course, being a charity, the profit doesn’t apply to us.)
I know that currently Wharfedale House is paid £986 per week for my care. This is by no means out of character for the fee in the home: in June 2012, Leeds City Council indicated (PDF) that the median fee paid by them for placements at Wharfedale House was £840.08.
To pay carers the Living Wage would require an increase in the wage bill of approximately 20%. Yet going by the above median fee, Wharfedale House charges 80% more than other care providers. Unlike private sector care providers, Wharfedale House doesn’t make a profit. We should clearly be able to afford to pay carers 20% more than the minimum wage.
I would like to raise a formal complaint that we do not pay our carers the Living Wage. Failing to do so devalues and dehumanises those who provide the most difference to our everyday lives: those who provide residents’ personal care and support. It has a consequent effect on our care as it affects our ability to recruit and retain decent carers. This has a direct consequence for the experience of service users such as myself.
I will not accept any argument in response to the complaint that states that LCD pays in line with industry standards, or that Wharfedale isn’t out or the ordinary, or that LCD can’t afford it. The fact that the rest of the industry also undervalues and devalues carers should have no bearing on our ability to “break the mould” by paying more. We should be setting a standard.
I will also not accept any argument that we cannot afford it; for the above reasons, but also because the residents are not involved in the budget setting process for the home, nor are we even informed as to how our fees are divided up and spent. There is no transparency.
By way of resolution to my complaint, I would accept and expect the following:
1) 20% increase in the rate of payment for care assistants / support workers
2) Should LCD refuse that, that Wharfedale House leave Leonard Cheshire Disability (who after all don’t own the building) and move to another provider who can provide the same or better service at the same or lower cost and with 20% increase in carers’ wages.
I am convinced that if LCD claim they are unable or unwilling to provide the increased wage, third party companies would be able to do so whilst providing the same or better level of service, the same or better staffing levels and a profit for any shareholders, without increasing the fee. This would be of significant benefit to Wharfedale House employees and service users.
I am also convinced that the benefits brought about by the improved pay rates would more than make up for the loss of any perceived benefits of being part of Leonard Cheshire as an organisation; and that leaving LCD would also have many other benefits for the home, its staff and its residents.
I won’t hold my breath.
Thanks as ever to the most excellent cartoonist, Crippen