England & Wales Health and social care

Diary of a home care worker, Part 2


Each day this week, as part of the Commission on the Future of the Home Care Workforce, we’re sharing the week in a life of a home care worker. This first hand account from a care worker in the North East of England highlights the issues of care quality and fair pay and conditions that the Commission is addressing.



Early start again today house was very quiet as I left at 7. The schools are shut for summer but I haven’t been able to do anything with the kids, and as I need the car they don’t get very far with my husband either. I arrive at the first job on my timesheet only to be shouted at as the lady wants a 9 am call and they keep giving her very early calls she refuses to let me in, I wish they would consider peoples choices more.

I report the matter and carry on early to my next lady she is quite happy for me to be early as we can have a cup of tea and a chat after I have helped her dress. I love it when this happens I also get chocolate biscuits which is great as I haven’t had time for breakfast and it’s very unlikely I will get time for lunch either.

I know when I arrive at Mrs. C that all is not good. She is sobbing uncontrollably as I enter and I struggle to understand what she is saying. I am due to be here for half an hour to assist with washing and dressing then encourage her to eat. I spend 20 minutes trying to calm her down before I can even suggest getting started. Mrs C is due to have a shower today but I have to assist with just a quick wash and dress before leaving her with some breakfast. I am supposed to monitor her food intake as she has been refusing to eat but I am already 20 minutes late so I really have to get on. I report this to the office.

I am back at Mrs D’s for a medication prompt , I have one hour’s break after this call then I am due to come back for her lunch. I decide just to stay, Mrs D needs assistance with domestic tasks so I encourage and support her do some washing and while I cleaned the bathroom she hoovered through. Mrs D really enjoys these normal activities and it’s great to see her looking so proud of her achievements today.

I get to the lady who shouted at me yesterday at a much more reasonable time, she even apologised – but really it’s something you get used to. I made her lunch and made sure I was with her the whole half hour as I didn’t want to upset her again. I had a break today then back at 5. My husband is off today so I can work later. We have a sandwich and a coffee and I see the kids for a bit before I head off again. My son begged me not to go. He was screaming as I left the house I don’t think we have spent more than four or five hours at a time together this holiday as I am desperate to make sure my car is road worthy.

I have three tea calls and two people to undress, a catheter bag to empty, one medication prompt and two men to put to bed so I can’t afford to get stuck in traffic this evening. It all seemed to run quite smoothly only having to cut the odd ten minutes off calls to allow for travel. My last call always runs over I am due to finish at 10 but most staff don’t take the time to speak to Mr E , his wife is very ill and they have no children. Mr E needs assistance to get dressed for bed and I also give him medication. As he has little social contact he hangs onto everything I say and begs me not to leave, I tidy around while we are chatting, basically making the floor safe to walk over. Social funding has been reduced and his services have been cut Mr E is severely visually impaired and needs help with domestic tasks but as he has to pay privately for this he has cancelled these calls. Mr E is using this money to pay for assistance and transport to the hospital to visit his wife. I eventually manage to leave at 10.40 knowing my husband will be very unhappy at how late I am and all the kids in bed when I get back.

  • Miles travelled: 36
  • Unpaid time travel: 30 minutes
  • Unpaid work time: 1 hour 40 minutes

Read entries from MondayWednesday,   Thursday and Friday


Find out more about the Commission on the Future of the Home Care Workforce, make your own submission or contact Ingrid Koehler, Senior Policy Researcher at LGiU at ingrid.koehler@lgiu.org

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