Appeal for night-time safety measures for home care staff
WORKERS who go out at night in all weathers to provide home care to elderly and disabled people are calling for Glasgow City Council to do more to ensure their safety.
Staff of the city’s Home Care Service say they have been followed, threatened and intimidated while travelling to provide help to vulnerable clients.
Most work alone, sometimes in areas of the city they are not familiar with, and often travel from appointment to appointment on foot.
One woman was trapped in her car by a group of youths who were trying to open the doors while another was recently targeted with a firework, campaigners claim.
Another worker had a bottle thrown at them and one feels so unsafe her partner follows her route in the car, sitting outside to see she returns safely from calls.
Launching the Safe at Night campaign GMB Scotland members asked councillors to pledge their support as they demonstrated outside the City Chambers, calling on the council to support proposals geared towards improving safety at work.
Shona Thomson, GMB Scotland Branch Secretary, said the campaign was a direct response to increasing concerns among home care staff about their personal safety while working and returning home from late night shifts.
She said: “Many home carers work on foot and alone until 10PM each evening. They visit their service users and tend to their needs and well-being before making their own way home, all year round and in all conditions.
“Unfortunately, too many home care staff will have a story to tell about being intimidated, threatened and even assaulted at night while walking between jobs or waiting for transport to take them home at the end of a shift.”
Caroline Thorpe, 59, was left sprawled and alone in a back lane in the city having stumbled into a pothole in the dark, and was subsequently off work with ligament damage for a lengthy period of recuperation.
She says she has also frequently felt unsafe working at night in unfamiliar parts of town. “The problem is usually not so much the client, but the areas you may be in.
“You have to go down the lanes because the runs that we are given are timed and you couldn’t do it if you walked the long way.
“It affects you mentally.
Many of my colleagues dread October and the dark nights,” she said.
The GMB is calling for a series of measures it says would improve safety, including on foot carers working in pairs out of hours; the provision of a pool car to return carers to a direct transport route home at the end of each shift; and improved nighttime support from coordinators.
Shona Thomson said: “It’s a modest ask of the council to make sure that home carers feel safer at night while looking after some of Glasgow’s most vulnerable citizens. District nurses don’t go out at that time on their own, nor would you get policemen working at that time of night alone,” she said.
Home care workers entering dark closes without security doors, or vandalised lifts have to balance their own
let[email protected] eveningtimes. co.uk or
on Facebook or Twitter safety with the fear that a client may be at risk if they do not manage to make the appointment, she said.
“Staff feel increasingly vulnerable on the job. This is unacceptable and needs to be urgently tackled by their employer.”
“We can do better than this. That’s why we are calling on councillors and service directors to work with us by introducing our three simple improvements to the existing and out-dated working arrangements.”
A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “We take the safety of our staff very seriously.
“More than 72% of our homecare staff live in the streets and the communities that they work and we have a range of policies and training in place to ensure that lone workers feel safe in their working environment.”
GMB campaigners urged councillors to sign up to their ‘Safe at Night’ campaign