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to think that jobs within the caring profession are ridiculously low paid??

(53 Posts)
whattimestea Sun 28-Apr-13 20:45:20

I have been a SAHM for a couple of years now but my family's circumstances have changed meaning that i'm now back actively looking for work.

I've signed up to a few online job search engine type things and every day I get alerts to new jobs which have been posted onto it. I look at the jobs whether they match my skills and experience or not - out of curiosity if anything. I've looked at a couple of jobs which have been advertised. Both in the caring sector. Now, i'm not trained in anything remotely health or care orientated whatsoever. I've never had any experience of nursing/residential homes in my personal life either. But I don't feel I need to have to be under the impression that it would be very demanding both physically, mentally and/or emotionally. Also you would feel a great deal of responsibility and duty as you are being entrusted with looking after the well-being of another human. Someone's mum or dad, son or daughter for example. Their quality of life is in your hands so to speak??

The jobs which were advertised were in a childrens home and a nursing home. Both vacancies specified that they wanted experienced people for the role - the latter wished for at least 5 years experience plus for it to be in a specialised area (in this case dementia and elderly care). In the case of the childrens home they were offering a zero hour contract stating that you needed to be available as and when and also be willing to work in whichever place needed you throughout quite a wide area. For this they were paying £6-50 per hour. The elderly care job was shift work and also specified that NVQ level 3 was essential. It was a senior carers role and the successful applicant would be the lead carer of the team. They were paying £7 an hour!!

Like I said my knowledge of the ins and outs of such jobs is non-existent so maybe IABU? Is this really representative of how jobs within this field pay their staff??

ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmmmmmmmm Sun 28-Apr-13 22:54:00

Double -

Government,until recently,were considering a register of carers. Carers earning minimum wage.A register like doctors or solicitors have. To improve standards. Dropped as unworkable. Lots of talk about "driving up standards" For less pay than a checkout operator.

Yeah. hmm

ThingsThatMakeYouGoHmmmmmmmmm Sun 28-Apr-13 22:58:09


" I can begin to understand the Staffordshire thing in that context"

NO. Everyone involved in the Staffordshire fiasco was being paid vastly more than my DP. sad

wonderstuff Sun 28-Apr-13 23:34:19

I don't think paying more is the whole answer, but rather recognising that caring for someone who is very vulnerable is skilled work, there seems to be evidence that actually lots of people aren't able to treat someone very vulnerable with dignity and respect.

I heard of a company where it was policy to pay everyone above MW, because when you pay MW you are saying if I could pay you less I would, which isn't how you get the best out of people.

If people feel valued and respected they will be better able to do caring jobs I think. I've worked with very vulnerable teens, and it's exhausting, not physically, but emotionally. I'm not sure i could work in a care home.

Wholetthedogin Sun 28-Apr-13 23:39:33

I think that part of the reason is that caring is considered women's work and therefor not valued and paid very little.

dontmeanto Sun 28-Apr-13 23:47:04

Sometimes it is very difficult to stomach knowing I could sit at a check out till and get paid the same as I do trying to keep a human being clean, clothed, safe, fed, while protecting his/her dignity, whilst filling out a thousand forms to prove I've done it so I then don't get accused of neglect and sacked or thrown into prison...all within a small timeframe because there are 8-9 needful individuals to 1 of me.

Most of us who truly care never do it for the pay. But if the owner of my company allowed me to sit in on interviews for new care workers I would do it in a heartbeat! Takes a good one to know a good one!

iliketea Sun 28-Apr-13 23:48:03

Yanbu. The problem is that staff pay is the biggest cost to the nHS and social care. So if you push up pay for health care assistants, then that also pushes up pay for nurses, midwives, Physios, doctors. Because as a nurse, with three years training plus however many years experience, you are accountable for whatever you delegate to a health care assistant (and who's train to be a nurse if you ended being paid the same as a care assistant you were supervising).
In soci care, contract goes to the lowest bidder, and the biggest chunk of money is staff, so low wages means lower bid for work.

It 's not right, but I can't see it getting better any time soon.

hellhasnofurylikeahungrywoman Sun 28-Apr-13 23:50:05

I work in children's palliative care, like my colleagues I want to give the children and families we look after the very best care I can at the most difficult time in their lives. Our pay isn't great, the hours are long, their are no incentives but every single person I work with gives the work their all but I could earn more working less hours on the shop floor of a supermarket and that makes me sad. Sad because so little value is put on caring for our fellow humans.

suchashame Mon 29-Apr-13 00:16:08

I work with people with learning and other impairments and have also worked with older people.... have worked at various levels over 40 years. Currently back to basics, semi retired due to stress. ( not related to the basic level I do now but the management level and financial aspect I used to ).

I love my job, I think I am good at it and both relatives and the people I support tell me that they like and appreciate the high level of support I give. I know however that there is a huge range of people being carers out there.... some are well intentioned but lack knowledge or skills, some are just ground down with it all and given up and some are just on a power trip and don't care at all... some just can't get any other job that will fit in around other aspects of their life. Some of us care a lot but are just so fed up of target driven rather than person centred care and always being blamed for perceived failures even when we try so darn hard. .... perfection is expected yet renumeration and value of us as people is just often piss poor.

Would it change if wages went up....hmmm I am not sure.. However what I am sure of is that some good people do leave care work because it does not pay a decent living wage.

Not sur making much sense now so late and v tired

pigletmania Mon 29-Apr-13 00:39:03

Yanbu at all it's disgusting. I used to work in care, and would earn more sacking shelves in AsdA than my job with less responsibility. No wonder they get monkeys if they pay peanuts.

Glitterandglue Mon 29-Apr-13 00:40:34

It is easy to do 'care work' if you don't actually care. Anybody can do the minimum, not give a shit about the result and just get through the day.

To get results which are actually worth something, which actually make a positive impact on the lives of those we care for (which you would think would be the point) you need people who care and who are trained and skilled.

I currently work part time in residential care as well as in counselling, and I am being begged to stay on at the place I'm in. I've also had two former members of management ask me to come and work for them in other homes. But I am single and looking to get a mortgage and honestly, I couldn't afford to do so on the wage of an RCW. I currently get £7.50 an hour. Even as a team leader or deputy I would struggle. Yet in my counselling place I have two different part time positions, one at £13 an hour and one at £15.80 an hour, and although it is emotionally tiring it is so, so much less stressful. Both of these jobs are skilled (if you do them properly) and both are very necessary, yet one pays about half of the other. Where's the sense in that?

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Mon 29-Apr-13 01:29:20

To me it makes no sense that there is no career progression or levels...

What other profession has no way of differentiating between the basic callous or incompetent and the skilled, the amazing and the best?!

Then you get a built in pay scale, appreciation and a way for ME to find the good ones out there!

What would the levels be?

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Mon 29-Apr-13 01:42:37

Ps I pay £13per hr! (no one out me pls though!) and still can't find anyone to do the awkward hrs 5-9pm... I struggle massively to do so, but I believe that respect breeds respect, and wages are a good start in that department. Still doesn't ruddy work though! Am going to have to say goodbye to the person who's been doing it for a month. She is sweet, which is a massive plus, but no engagement with me or the situation at all... Really sad actually.

Tell me this oh great carers all! How do I tell if someone has the ability to empathise with a disabled persons needs?

Eg. She keeps bringing in food and doesn't lower the plate do I can see what's on it (or tell me), then she waves a tub at me from the doorway (out of my line of sight) and asks want this? Errr, I don't know what's in the tub, or on the plate! And she have me a really funny look when I asked her to show me, in spite of me explaining (again), that I can't sit up to look myself. Ffs! Small thing until you have to live like it... It was pasta & pesto, & Parmesan btw!

Eg2. I have a 3yr old who gets v upset if he thinks there is something wrong with me, so often I will say / act much better than I am when he's around. So, 'how r u?' gets answered with a 'not great today' in a pleasant tone rather than 'I feel ducking awful owwww'... But even if I explain, several times, even suggesting 'code', many of my carers ignore what I've said in favour of listening to my tone and refuse to believe there is anything wrong with me!!!

MummytoKatie Mon 29-Apr-13 01:52:24

My grandmother is in a nice (read expensive) nursing home. Apparently all the staff are paid significantly above NMW. (My mum is one of those people who is just so lovely that everyone tells her everything about their lives. She is also an ex-accountant. She could probably do the home's tax return. She's quite scary in a totally lovely sort of way.)

Anyway the proportion of men working at the home is much higher than you would expect. It has advantages because my gran is now paralysed pretty much from the neck down and it makes lifting etc easier. My aunt hates it - partly because she hates the thought of men doing personal care for my gran but partly because she thinks that the men are just doing it "for the money".

She would prefer it if my gran was moved to a different (cheaper) home which was completely staffed with women on minimum wage as then there would be proper care from "women doing it for the right reasons".

Fairly sure there was a point here somewhere (possibly just that my aunt is bats) but I've lost it along the way. Probably because it's 2am and I'm shattered.

But whatever the point is - it depresses me.

GoshAnneGorilla Mon 29-Apr-13 02:01:48


It can also be frighteningly easy to get a job in a care home. Back in the day when I did my time, it was harder getting shop work, for a care home you just had to turn up for the interview.

I have also met lovely staff and people I would never employ anywhere, ever.

Also, the standard of nursing can be atrocious and that's when the rot really sets in, if the leadership is not there.

Care work is valuable, essential and actually, I don't think anyone could do it, not to the high standard that is required. It should be a well paid profession and staff absolutely should have to be registered.

SolidGoldBrass Mon 29-Apr-13 02:48:03

Wholetthedogin nailed it upthread: it's because caring is seen as women's work which means it's to be done out of love and duty, because women are the servant class and it's wicked for a woman to be motivated by money. There's also the attitude that 'women's work' is unskilled and unimportant and menial, therefore only unimportant people do it - and those who do take it up are more like domestic animals than people. Add that to a culture of shareholders and directors paying all staff as little as they can get away with, everything subcontracted out to agencies who take the biggest slice of the pie for themselves by paying the actual workers as little as they can possibly get away with, and that's what we end up with.

I still remember the shock and sadness I felt when DS' first keyworker at nursery let us know she was leaving, to go and work in Asda on the checkout, because she'd earn more. FFS Asda who pay criminally low wages, would be paying her more than the nursery, which was a private nursery that cost quite a lot to send DS to.

ChairmanWow Mon 29-Apr-13 07:07:43

I am not in the caring profession any more, but I had a few jobs and all bar one were in private homes prior to the introduction of the minimum wage. In one, in the early '90s I was paid £1.80 an hour as a care assistant. £1.80! I witnessed staff shouting at residents, leaving them naked and freezing after getting them out of the bath, found unexplained bruising on 2 residents which was never investigated after I reported it and walked in to find another care assistant with her hand raised about to hit a resident who was 101 years old and very frail - this was never investigated when I reported it either. I left and reported all of this to the local authority. Never heard from them again either. In all the private homes I worked in staff were not allowed to sit and spend time with the residents, who were just plonked in a room and left there all day. Because they had dementia they were unable to complain or demand better treatment. This still appals me.

A few years later I got a job working for a different local authority in learning disability service and it couldn't have been more different. The pay was competitively good (still not great), lots of respect amongst staff for the service users, excellent training, supportive management, loads of activities with service users. It's no coincidence that the sickness levels and staff turnover were very low.

Councils have been forced by cuts to contract out to the lowest bidder. Some have done this happily, others less so but the net result is poorly trained and low paid staff working with extremely vulnerable people. Having worked in both sectors this scares me. I would think very carefully before entrusting the care of a vulnerable family member to a private home or agency.

LeChatRouge Mon 29-Apr-13 10:45:43

When I read things like the incidents ChairmanWow has written about, I feel like I am going to be physically sick or cry.

This is such a hot topic for me. I know I should be working in a caring profession, it feels like a calling to me. I embarked on my student nursing degree with such excitement, I knew I was going to be able to make a difference to people, to help them when they were feeling awful. But, the management were shocking in their practices, I literally could not believe the things we were asked to do, the way those 'people' behaved. I became so disillusioned and was forced (by myself) to leave. No one wanted to listen, no one senior wanted to hear.

I truly believe we need to shout about this. Our parents will be needing care. Can we let then live in these places, cared for by these people? How, and who, can make it better?

I think what people are saying is so true. It is not seen as a valued profession, very much a low skilled, low paid role. When I was a school the less academic people chose 'care' as a vocation.

I am not into politics, but this is the only topic that I feel would make me represent people and stand up and make a difference.

fuzzypicklehead Mon 29-Apr-13 11:03:20

Things are starting to turn around where I live because (for adults with learning disabilities) direct payments are becoming more and more common. In those cases, the local authority gives the care budget directly to the individual and they hire their own staff. (usually with the support of their parents)

It means they don't have to pay the massive overheads of an agency or residential home, so the money pays a decent wage for highly qualified staff and care/activities/technology that will tremendously improve that person's quality of life.

A great deal of the process happens by word of mouth at present, so reputation is everything, and a good carer will find him/herself overwhelmed with work.

infamouspoo Mon 29-Apr-13 11:10:57

Carers should be valued way more than they are. Given we will all be on the recieving end one day you'd think it would be self interest to make sure this was so.

DoubleLifeIsALifeHalved Mon 29-Apr-13 13:14:40

Trouble is direct payments don't really solve the problem or create strong enough market forces... Though obviously better than forcing people to accept the cruelty and abuse of some agencies.

Thing is, if you are disabled or elderly, you don't have the health or energy or money to be able to go through a thorough and protracted recruitment process. You do it until everything is collapsing around you, and then you have to settle...

For example I now have a carer who doesn't steal from me, and doesn't scream in my face, or laugh at my naked body... Or scald my son. Those were the people approved and sanctioned by the council btw.

Does it mean that she is competent or fulfilling her job role? No, unfortuneately it doesn't. She refuses to listen or play with my darling boy, who runs away screaming when she comes in, she serves me uncooked and still frozen food, she is not capable of doing about 2/3 of the job no matter how many times it's explained to her how essential it is.

But when you are struggling to survive each day, where is the extra burst of health & energy & resources that allows me to find the needle in the haystack? I was referred to an agency which my council outsource help in recruiting... They sent me 100 cvs, all ruled out for reasons such as people with criminal records, men (all for equality, but not in my bathroom), no right to work in the country, email addresses such as '', and people you said 'they could help out sometimes when they were free'... This was the 'specialist help' I was offered. Unsurprisingly I did better myself.

When the bar is set so inhumanely low, it's hard to raise it to an even semi acceptable level.

This is why something needs to change.

LaGuardia Mon 29-Apr-13 14:08:26

A friend of mine is sucking up the bad pay and conditions an NHS hospitals offers for the next two years, and then taking her qualifications to the private sector. Where they pay a bit more than £6.50 an hour.

NC78 Mon 29-Apr-13 14:10:06

Do you pay £13 per hour directly to the carer or via an agency? If you are using an agency they are likely to be taking half of that...

GetOrfMoiLand Mon 29-Apr-13 14:17:30

Jesus christ doublelife. That is bloody awful. I am frightened to think that you have articulated what life is like for a great many disabled and elderly people with carers.

It is shocking how little people who work in the care industry are paid and valued. I don't know what the solution is at all. But it stinks.

I agree with SGB to an extent that caring is primarily a women's role and traditional womens roles are poorly paid and valued. That is reflected in the poster where her relative is in a care home with better paid staff (male) than another one where the staff are on NMW (female).

daftdame Mon 29-Apr-13 14:31:25

Low pay could be a side effect of the emotional investment people of these professions have in caring for the people they work with. That is, if money was your motivation you would probably be in a different job to start with.

Doesn't excuse the exploitation or overwork though.

SusanneLinder Mon 29-Apr-13 14:36:14

Doublelife-your story scares me. I used to be a home carer, and I never ever treated my clients with anything other than respect.I did it part time as DH was at Uni training to be a nurse on top of a full time job. I loved it.Money was awful, but I enjoyed the work.I had an accident a couple of years ago, and cant do moving and handling, so gave it up, but still miss some of my ladies.

DH is a qualified mental health nurse and gets less than £11 an hour in NHS. He would get more working in care homes-survived two, and would NEVER go back to one. He whistleblew twice over standards,to company.LA and Care regulators, said he would have sacked half the carers-although some were completely amazing.

Awful places.

Doublelife-I would have happily come and helped you out, and not just for the money either.I loved the job.grin

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