Home carers claim they feel ‘unsafe’
STAFF tending to Glasgow’s most vulnerable residents claim their work is making them feel unsafe. GMB Scotland said a survey of its 1600 home carer members say 96 per cent of care workers in the city had felt unsafe while working shifts at night.
Some 55 per cent said they would not know what to do if an incident occurred while working alone in the hours of darkness with 79 per cent saying they are not confident there is the right support available to them when working alone.
Glasgow City Council, however, said the safety of its staff is “of paramount importance”.
But GMB Scotland Organiser Rhea Wolfson, inset, said: “Many of our home care members work “on foot” and alone beyond 10pm at night, tending to the needs of their clients all year round and in all conditions.
“It’s a modest ask of the council to make sure that when home carers are looking after some of our city’s most vulnerable citizens in the evening, those staff feel safe themselves.
“The alarming results of this survey demand urgent action from the Council, and we’ll be writing to elected representatives asking them to support our call to make our home care workers safe at night.”
GMB bosses said they conducted the survey following reports from members that they felt increasingly vulnerable on the job.
The survey shows that of those who had reported an incident that had taken place while lone working, just 13 per cent felt it was handled well and dealt with appropriately. Some 54 per cent said that working alone in hours of darkness is having an impact on their health, including their mental health. The union has proposed a range of measures to address the concerns of the workforce, and have launched their “Safe at Night” campaign, calling for:
• Dual working arrangements for on foot carers during ‘out of hours’ service.
• A pool car to return carers to a direct transport route home at the end of each shift.
• Increased home care coordinator resource during ‘out of hours’ for staff safety. A Glasgow City Council spokeswoman said: “The safety of our staff is of paramount importance and once again the details of this survey has not, until passed on by the media, been shared with homecare senior management.
“More than 72 per cent 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 – this includes a mobile phone and contact with a co-ordinator back at base.
“In addition, more than 350 support vehicles are available across the city day and night to provide back up and assistance if required.
“The percentages used in the communication of the home carers’ in this minority union are alarming and don’t reflect the total staff numbers.”