England & Wales Health and social care

Diary of a home care worker: Part 4



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.



Day 18, this is beginning to be a real struggle, after an early night I expected to jump out of bed feeling refreshed and revived instead it feels like I’ve had a bottle of whiskey. I’ve no time to feel ill, I have four people to get up and dressed one of those needs a shower then a medication prompt followed by four lunch calls and a two hour sit.

All seemed to be going well until I got to the man who needed a shower, he suffers from dementia and can become rather violent. After struggling to wake him and get him out of bed he became quite angry (I would be angry if someone came in and woke me up to get straight in the shower!) this meant I was held up quite considerably trying to calm him down. I have 45 minutes for this call which often is sufficient time but today I was there one hour and five minutes. I usually feed him his breakfast but as I had over run so much his wife offered to help out once I’d got him ready so I left her to do this while I hurried on.  Mrs F was next on my list luckily a medication prompt can be done in 5 -10 minutes so I was able to make up a bit of time , I know how much she loves a bit of social interaction and I feel so guilty having to leave her with just a hello – goodbye.

With little or no information on service users it can come down to guess work on a lot of calls. My next medication prompt told me she had taken her meds. I was not convinced. After offering her a cup of tea I called the  office to ask where medication was kept so I could check. I found her medication along with 11 old dosette packs all of which contained medication which had been missed, others must have accepted her explanation and left without ensuring administration. This meant I had to return all the packs to the pharmacy and get a receipt , this took a good 25 minutes of my time – time again I don’t get paid for.

 Some days I think about getting another job, I would get paid more and pay less in petrol if I worked in a supermarket. But I don’t think that;s a possibility.  I love my job; I really do care and have wonderful relationships with my service users and their families. All I want are better terms and conditions and a living wage would be nice!

As per usual I ended up running late thanks to the medication error, so managed to see my husband for about five minutes before he flew off to work and I got the kids ready for bed. I feel like a single parent some days.

  • Miles travelled: 39
  • Unpaid travel time: 40 minutes
  • Unpaid work time: 45 minutes

Read entries from Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday


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 [email protected]


Photo Credit: incurable_hippie via Compfight cc