Ethical charter on the way for Falkirk carers

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Falkirk Council members have agreed to look at introducing a trade union’s charter that recognises the value of care workers who often work long, unsocial hours to deliver care with professionalism and empathy.

Councillors from across the political divide agreed to look at adopting the trade union Unison’s ethical care charter for all the council’s carers, whether employed directly by the council or not.

The charter, which was introduced in 2012, sought to improve employment conditions including pay levels, supervisory support and training.

The pressures highlighted in Unison’s report included care staff having insufficient time allocated to meet individual need, the lack of appropriate training and the rates of pay acting as a barrier to effective recruitment and retention.

Falkirk Council’s executive heard that the council is already “80 per cent” compliant with the report’s objectives and the portfolio holder, SNP Councillor Fiona Collie, said she was happy to look at how the charter could be implemented in full.

The proposal was brought forward by Labour Councillor Allyson Black, who said: “Having person-centred care and treating people as individuals promotes health and wellbeing and our social work staff and procurement staff work hard to make this happen.

“We just need to go a few steps further, such as promoting family friendly working and we still have a minority of providers not paying travelling time.”

As the council is about to commence its annual review of all providers she felt it was a good time to look at committing to the charter fully.

Councillor Collie said: “The main  elements of the charter are positive aspirations which form an integral element of our existing approach to quality of care for people who use services.

“We are therefore supportive of the motion.  We want to ensure that we provide the best quality of care to individuals and a supportive environment for our staff.”

Members agreed finding ways to improve recruitment and retention of care staff would also deliver improvements for service users, giving them consistency and continuity of care.

Members congratulated the head of social work services and senior staff for implementing many of the recommendations already.

Falkirk Council home carers are paid for travel time between appointments and provided with a mobile phone.  Zero hours contracts are not used and all employees are paid the Living Wage.

Sickness benefits are in line with national conditions for all Falkirk Council staff and all home care staff receive appropriate training.

External employers have to demonstrate appropriate employee conditions and benefits, including the payment of the living wage.

Members asked Patricia Cassidy, chief officer of the Integrated Joint Board to bring forward a report detailing how the charter can be implemented in full to the November meeting.