Care workers are reportedly at “breaking point” during the coronavirus pandemic, and this emotional viral video explains exactly why.
Last week, prime minister Boris Johnson promised sufficient personal protective equipment (PPE) would arrive with care workers across the UK by the end the week. Health secretary Matt Hancock then shared an open letter with his “brilliant colleagues in social care”, outlining the hard times that are ahead and saying thank you for “everything you do”.
Government guidance published on 19 March said that the public could still make visits – provided they had no symptoms – and urged homes to “emphasise good hand hygiene”. But some care homes have since banned visits.
Now, care workers are reporting that enough isn’t being done to protect residents and staff.
Public service union Unison has released a statement, explaining that social care workers across the country are “at breaking point, with many being given just plastic aprons and gloves to protect against coronavirus as they support the vulnerable and elderly”.
Unison’s 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.
“A more co-ordinated approach is needed desperately, with managers all following official guidance. Every care worker who needs masks and other safety gear must be supplied with it as a matter of urgency.”
A video interview that illustrates this very urgency has now gone viral.
Care by Us operations director, Alison Horne, became understandably upset while talking to ITV News. The government sent the care company 300 single-use face masks, despite the fact that they usually get through 24,000 visits a week. According to the report, the masks will last a matter of hours and “the pressure has pushed the manager to tears”.
“We don’t feel like we can do enough,” says Horne. “The responsibility for these very vulnerable people and the team. We love what we do. We love our clients. And we love our team. But it’s such a fast moving situation… we don’t feel in control.
“It’s enormous pressure. There is community spirit, but people really need to get behind us. Not just the NHS, they need to get behind the care providers out there as well.”
We have a lot of people to be thankful for during this pandemic, from NHS staff on the frontline to key workers who are keeping everything else running. We should also be dedicating our claps and good thoughts to care workers. But it is government action that needs to be taken to protect them, because supportive words and hopeful promises are just not enough at this time.