Social care workers across the country are being overlooked when it comes to having access to adequate protection equipment while they deal with the coronavirus crisis, union leaders say.
UNISON said that many social care staff are at “breaking point” with many being given just plastic aprons and gloves to protect against coronavirus as they support the vulnerable and elderly.
The union said that some managers are either refusing to issue face masks or not providing training in how to use them, and not supplying hand sanitiser.
As a result, there is “widespread anxiety” among staff that they and their families may become infected or they may spread the virus among the people they care for.
The union has also received reports of some employees being asked to work even if they have underlying health issues, and to bring their children in if they cannot get childcare.
He told the union: “When I walk through my work doors, it’s as though there’s no such thing as a global pandemic happening on the outside.
“When I walk through my work doors, it’s as though there’s no such thing
as a global pandemic happening on the outside“
Anonymous care home worker
“I’m coming home to a 22-month-old every day and am so anxious going to work. The managers are even suggesting we take our children in if we can’t find childcare.”
UNISON said that another “major” concern among care staff in residential homes and those supporting people in their own accommodation is that advice from managers differs from the official government guidance on PPE.
One support worker told the union: “There’s a woman with dementia [and symptoms] who doesn’t cover her mouth when coughing and constantly tries to touch staff.
“I believe there’s a high risk of droplet transfer and have asked for eye-protection or a full-face visor only to be told they’re not required.”
Other issues include families still being allowed by managers to make daily visits to residents, despite official restrictions limiting movement and social interaction.
“I have asked for eye-protection or a full-face visor
only to be told they’re not required”
Anonymous support worker
UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: “Care workers are being treated as though their safety and that of their loved ones doesn’t matter.
“They feel they’ve been forgotten about and are at the bottom of the pile despite doing a vital job. Many are being denied access to vital protective kit that helps prevent the spread of the virus to them, their families and the people they look after.
McAnea said that a more co-ordinated approach is needed “desperately”, with managers all following official guidance.
She said: “Every care worker who needs masks and other safety gear must be supplied with it as a matter of urgency.”