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Sunday, 21 September 2014

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Union’s anger at Bethsaida care group claims

A union chief has hit out at a home care provider after it said staff sicknesses had been behind a number of late visits that drew criticism from inspectors.

Kevin Young photo
Kevin Young

Kevin Young, regional organiser for the GMB, said some of the absences among its members at Bethsaida Homecare Services had been due to stress – and concerns had been raised about workloads.

Mr Young spoke out after the firm raised sickness as an issue when it came under fire from the Care Quality Commission (CQC). The commission said spot checks found the company – a care agency that covers a large part of west Cumbria and goes out to people in the community – was failing to meet national standards.

Mr Young said the union, which represents about half the staff at Bethsaida, had made representations to the company, adding: “Members say they are stressed out with the workload put on them.

“One of the reasons members are taking sickness absence is down to work-related stress.”

Bethsaida has now apologised to any staff offended by the sickness comments and thanked employees for their hard work.

In its report, the commission had been concerned that “people were not consistently receiving the care they required at appropriate times of the day”.

Several service users told inspectors that visits from care workers were often delayed and the firm has admitted four visits were missed in a month.

Bosses at Bethsaida pointed out following the report that the firm carries out thousands of visits and the percentage missed was tiny.

They had said three of the missed visits were because a member of staff failed to turn up for work and did not inform the company.

The company added “most” of the complaint was “largely due to late visits – not missed visits – which in turn were caused by staff going sick at the very last moment” and highlighted recognition it received for its work with staff.

But these comments about sickness provoked the union backlash. Bethsaida issued a further statement following the comments from the GMB.

It said: “The CQC report has highlighted a number of issues that the entire company, carers and office staff alike, are working hard to address.

“We would like to apologise to any of our staff who feel our previous comments cast any slight on their professionalism or commitment to their work and indeed the company.

“Collectively we have made great progress in addressing the issues highlighted on the CQC report and are due a follow-up inspection.

“We would like to thank our employees for their hard work and dedication during this difficult period and add that we are open and willing to discuss further issues any of then have.

“We would also like to thank our clients and their families for their understanding during this time.”

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