Published by Jo Wright on
Helping Hands’ customer, Charlotte Wood, is an active campaigner for Citizens UK. Here she describes her own personal experiences and explains what Citizens UK is striving to do and how you can get involved.
“I have always believed that looking after the disabled and elderly is a vital and honourable job, but it wasn’t until my Grandma developed Alzheimer’s that I learned it is also undignified and undervalued. When she passed away I decided I wanted to do something about this but did not know how. I also did not know that in few years’ time I would become dependent on social care myself.
At age 21 I was diagnosed with Muscular Dystrophy. My health deteriorated rapidly and I had to leave Uni and move into a care home. I found most of the staff where caring and compassionate people but felt they were over worked and undertrained. As I got to know the other residents I was struck by how different their needs were and witnessed how the small things such as knowing how someone has their cup of tea or sitting and having a chat can really make a difference to their quality of life.
The staff tried hard to provide personal care with dignity but were often rushed. On several occasions I found myself left shivering in the shower because someone had simply forgotten I was there and other residents complained that they were not able to get up until the afternoon. I decided to get involved with an organisation called Citizens UK who were campaigning to improve social care across the UK.
I have had Live-in Care from Helping Hands for the last year and this has given me my life back. Being able to live in my own home with the flexibility Live-in Care provides has enabled me to regain my independence and confidence. My carers have helped to become more involved in the social care campaign and I have met with care recipients, care workers and care providers from across the country.
Sadly, I have found that, whilst I am lucky, many people do not receive the quality of care they deserve and that that there are many endemic problems in our nation’s care system.
I am therefore joining the hundreds of community organisations that make up Citizens UK asking the government to provide the necessary support and funding so that everyone that needs care is cared for by a named, trained and reasonably paid care worker who has enough time to do their job with dignity and develop meaningful relationships with their clients.”
Citizens UK is a powerful alliance of community organisations including faith groups, schools, universities, trade unions, housing associations and other third sector organisations working together for the common good. This is done by listening to what local people want to change, teaching participation in democracy and helping communities hold politicians to account. They are currently working on a range of local and national issues.
When I began needing support form carers I felt embarrassed and powerless. I also had lots of ideas as to how social care could be improved but no way to make a difference. It was through volunteering with Citizens UK that I realised that by standing together with thousands of others who care about care I could bring about real change.
The Citizens UK Social Care Charter was developed in partnership with local communities, local councils, care agencies, care workers and recipients and describes what we believe are the minimum standards needed for care to be provided with dignity and for carers to get a fair deal. Essentially:
– Quality training, especially in dementia
– Care is provided to an individual by a small team of familiar care workers
– Enough time to provide care with dignity and build meaningful relationships. (Home care visits should be a minimum of 30 minutes.)
– Paid travel time
– A living wage and occupational sick pay
– Opportunities for carer progression
– For more info see www.icareaboutcare.org.uk
Currently these standards are not achievable for many care agencies due to the way care is funded by local authorities. To make it achievable the government will need to make significant changes to the system and invest approximately £1 Billion. I believe this is a price worth paying.
We have been meeting with MPs across the country (including the Prime Minister) asking them to commit to making this a priority should they be re-elected this May. On 24th March they brought senior politicians with responsibility for social care from the three main political parties together with 2300 of our members for an assembly in Nottingham. We will inform you of these outcomes in due course.
Article courtesy of Charlotte Wood