Saturday, 20 August 2016

The calamity facing every Care Assistant & Support Worker


Quite rightly, a national blacklist exists of care workers who have abused or mistreated a resident or service user.

Workers in this sector are at high risk of being drawn into a serious investigation.  Service users make complaints - and by no means are all of them well founded.  The families of service users complain. Same as anywhere else, your colleagues can complain about you.

Because of the importance of any care home, the employer cannot ignore any complaint and must investigate all of them.   It's rare to find an experienced care worker who hasn't been involved in a disciplinary investigation.

So here's the really scary thing.  It's not just your job on the line when there's an investigation. It's your name and reputation.  A dismissal from the care sector carries with it the very real possibility that you will never work again doing what you love. In other words, your career can be completely destroyed....permanently.

I dealt with a hearing this week in a care home for adults with learning disabilities.  A service user with aggression issues opened an internal door where he shouldn't have been. A very decent care worker held up her hands in front of him to gesture he should not come closer.

To the colleague standing behind, it looked like a push. Because she is also a decent and caring support worker, she felt it her responsibility to report the incident.   I believe that both were being sincere.

The support assistant loves her job and has been devastated at the prospect of being banned from caring for others. The investigation has taken months (no good reason for that, but not unusual) and has made her unwell. So has been so upset and horrified by the allegations that she was in no fit state to represent herself at the most important meeting of her life. As with most cases I've done in the care sector, I believe the outcome would have been very different had the union not been involved.

Employers never need to prove something, they only need a "reasonably held belief" of guilt.  They look at "the balance of probabilities".

Faced with the calamity of dismissal from the care sector, it is extremely unwise not to be a member of a Trade Union.

Because so many are not, there are decent people on the blacklist who shouldn't be. Decent people whose lives have been needlessly ruined.  Residents have been deprived of quality carers.

Worse, some employers are spiteful when it comes to the blacklist, and use it as a threat. Some workers even end up on the list before any hearing has been heard. Because union membership is low in the sector, nobody has any idea how widespread this abuse of the workers is.

Like the old legal saying goes, "the client who chooses himself as his lawyer is a fool."

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Exhausted lorry driver told to carry on working...after 14 hr shift

There was still one more run to do.   But the shattered driver had already done over fourteen hours, and didn't feel safe to do anymore.

He pulled in and rang the transport office.   "There's only one job left, you can be back here in 45 minutes if you get going now."

"I'm shattered, I'm not safe to do anymore. I'll be back in five minutes so I can go home."

"Let me be very clear....you will complete the next job now or you will be failing to follow a reasonable request."

The driver stuck to his guns and refused to do the unsafe job.

The next day, he was suspended and placed under investigation for "gross misconduct".

Luckily, these are union drivers.   Understandably, the Snr Steward has been livid about the injustice of this.   Attempts to resolve the matter informally failed.

Last week - following a long suspension, the dismissal hearing was held.

About five minutes before kick-off, the Snr Steward had a quiet word with the transport manager.

"Obviously, I can't stop you from sacking ***.  But please understand that if you do, I will be forced to hold a general meeting outside of work for all the drivers."

I'm sure this little chat helped a lot, and probably contributed to the old line, "of course we may need to investigate further, so won't be able to give you a decision today."

I'm pleased to have learned that the charges have been dropped.  I honestly think we'd have balloted for action if the outcome had been different.

Unfortunately, the employers ego will not allow a 100% retreat.  They are suggesting a "performance improvement plan".  The Snr Steward has told them where they can put it :)