Liberal Democrat Leader calls for Council to sign Ethical Care Charter

The Leader of the Opposition and Liberal Democrat Group Leader on Oldham Council, Councillor Howard Sykes MBE, has written to Councillor Barbara Brownridge, the Cabinet member with responsibility for social care calling on Oldham Council to sign the Ethical Care Charter championed by the trades union UNISON.

Councillor Sykes explains: “I was pleased when, in January 2014, Oldham Council adopted a new ethical care policy in the purchasing and delivery of social care in our Borough.  There were many things in it that were very positive, such as no fifteen minute visits and a service ethos that revolves around the needs and wishes of the person receiving care.“

“However the Charter has still higher standards and I would like to see this Council sign up to them – not only so those receiving care in our Borough can be even more sure of receiving the best care possible, but also to make sure that this care is being delivered by well-motivated staff receiving good pay and with excellent working conditions.”

In his email, Councillor Sykes highlighted where the current policy was not quite up to the standards sought in the Charter:

“Care providers appear not to be specifically committed to paying their staff the National Living Wage as opposed to the Oldham Living Wage.  This is despite the fact that in n December 2013, the Oldham Liberal Democrats sponsored a motion that was supported by all Councillors where Council agreed to seek the National Living Wage for the staff of contractors, arms-length organisations and agencies engaged in contracts with the Council.”

“Nor do care providers appear to be required to reimburse homecare workers for travel and the other expenses associated with their employment (for example, mobile phone charges), nor to ensure that they are offered membership of an occupational sick pay scheme or enjoy the opportunity to meet co-workers to share experiences.”

“I have asked Cllr Brownridge to revise the Council’s Ethical Care Approach to ensure that it reflects the remaining aspirations in the UNISON Charter and then to sign it, joining thirty other Councils across the UK which have done so.”

“After all, don’t we all want the best care for our loved ones, delivered by staff who are properly rewarded for the vital work that they do?”

Copy email below

From: Howard Sykes
Sent: 27 September 2017 15:26
To: Cllr B Brownridge
Cc: (A) Kay Gibson (kay.gibson@oldham.gov.uk)
Subject: Ethical Care Approach to the Procurement and Delivery of Domiciliary Care

Dear Cllr Brownridge,

As you will be aware, in January 2014, Oldham Council’s Cabinet adopted a new Ethical Care Approach to the Procurement and Delivery of Domiciliary Care.

The new approach was approved to take effect from 7 February 2014 for a period of three years, with an option to renew for two years.

I have recently become aware of the Ethical Care Charter championed by the trades union UNISON (savecarenow.org.uk/ethical-care-charter).

Having compared the two documents, I was pleased to see that the approach adopted by this Council in 2014 reflected many of the aspirations outlined on this document for the procurement of domiciliary care, but not all.

Particularly in relation to the treatment of employees:

Providers appear not to be specifically committed to paying their staff the National Living Wage as opposed to the Oldham Living Wage.

This despite the fact that in December 2013 full Council supported a Liberal Democrat sponsored motion to pay our own staff the National Living Wage at the earliest possible time, to commit itself to “Seeking the same wage rate for the staff of contractors, arms-length organisations and agencies engaged in contracts with the Council.”

Although providers have to pay for travel time, they appear not to be bound to reimburse homecare workers for travel expenses and the other necessary expenses associated with their employment (for example, mobile phone charges).

In addition, the Charter wants all homecare workers to be covered by an occupational sick pay scheme to “ensure staff do not feel pressurised to work when they are ill” and to have the opportunity to meet with co-workers to limit isolation and promote best practice. There appears to be mention of either of these in the Ethical Care Approach.

As the Council’s Ethical Care Approach appears not to have come back to Cabinet for renewed approval, nor be listed as Approved under Delegated Decisions, I would suggest that this would be opportune time to look to revise the Ethical Care Approach to ensure that it reflects the remaining aspirations in the UNISON Charter?

There would then surely be no impediment to this Administration joining the thirty other Councils across the UK which has signed the Charter?

Such an action would be provide further reassurance to residents that this Council is fully committed to delivering excellent homecare services and to the exemplary treatment of homecare workers.

I shall look forward to receiving your reply.

As always happy to discuss if you wish.

Best wishes.

Howard

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