This post is published as a series of blogs about privatisation and in support of the ‘Week of Auctions organised by an alliance of anti-cuts groups across the UK. The following is a personal perspective on care work.
By Jess Stanton
After his health worsened last Christmas, my Grandad Jack had to leave his bungalow in Ellesmere Port – a town he had lived in for 87 years, to move closer to my parents’ home in Oxfordshire. He could no longer cope on his own and he had lost much of his independence when his health deteriorated. I am not trained or employed as a carer in any official capacity, but I am now my Grandad Jack’s carer and I have the upmost respect for this very special profession.
I have learned first-hand that caring is not just a case of doing a few chores for somebody; it is so much more than that. It requires a great deal of expertise, empathy and patience to maintain and be responsible for the dignity of someone else. It can be rewarding, heart-warming and enjoyable on a good day, but it can also be challenging, stressful and very upsetting at other times. I have worked with young people with behavioural problems and various disabilities, so in some ways caring comes quite naturally to me. In other ways it has been unfamiliar and extremely difficult, not for the fault of my Grandad Jack, but because that is just how caring is.
This is why I am deeply concerned about the government’s plans to open up public services, to private firms, including care. I am a strong believer that the state should provide and manage all needs-based services. Many people across the UK need care and carers, who put them first and treat them with the upmost respect. If private firms take over a care home or hospital, they do it to make a profit first and foremost. This means that profit and people are competing priorities in privately-run care institutions and this is, in my opinion, totally unacceptable.
After seeing the horrific treatment of patients at the private Winterbourne View hospital from the BBC Panorama documentary, I was utterly appalled by the shocking and disturbing undercover footage. Although this is an extreme case, it shows that abuse can and does happen even in a privately-owned hospital that is taxpayer funded. What concerns me is how the Care Quality Commission will monitor all the private firms operating care services to ensure an acceptable standard of care is maintained.
I speak as both a carer and family member of a relative who needs care when I say this: Care is not and should not be a profitable commodity – it is someone’s life and dignity at stake, not a ‘product’ up for sale to the highest bidder. I strongly oppose public care services being opened up to privatisation and anybody who cares about care would also oppose this white paper.
I am therefore joining the ‘Week of Auctions’ from the 20th of October to the 5th of November. If you want to find out more on how you can get involved too watch this short video or email in your interest.