Inez Teece, Assistant Secretary has compiled this response using information gathered from the Consultation meetings held around Aberdeenshire and feedback from individuals.
Inez said, "Any change to working practice and patterns causes great concerns and anxiety. Care Homes are staffed predominantly by a female workforce that care deeply for their residents home and communities, but also have home and family lives that are equally important to them. These proposed changes have unsettled our members and concerns for themselves and their livelihoods are now forefront in their minds."
Concerns were raised as to staffing levels because of this change as they believe there would be too many staff working at weekends and not enough working during the week when it can often be busier. The question was raised by some Homes "why fix something that is not broken?", why change now when it works at the moment and meets the criteria for staffing?
The costs of more staff working at the weekend were also raised as a concern, as weekend working allowance would apply. Concerns were also voiced by staff that they thought that sickness absence would increase at weekends as staff would be stressed by the impact on their home lives and they believe a very few would take the opportunity to use sickness as a way to spend time with their families.
The length of consecutive days worked was also raised as a concern on a health and safety viewpoint. Staff were concerned that in order to get the weekend off, they would have to work up to 8 days consecutively.
Other concerns were raised that in order to reduce the number of consecutive days worked that split days off were proposed. Staff felt that split days off did not give them adequate rest time before starting work again with the possibility of increasing sickness absence.
Staff to Client Ratio
Secondly staff felt in many Homes that there would be a reduction in the amount of staff available to provide the required support to an increasingly frail resident population. This issue was equally an issue for staff providing support to residents approaching end of life and the increased workload and stress this situation creates.
The rota's have been drawn up fully staffing the Care Homes, staff are concerned about what former relief staff will do, how will their rotas be designed and how will their hours work? Staff do not want to be left owing hours to the Council.
Some staff are "losing" up to 20% of their income due to the "removal" of shift allowance and this is seen as an insult and a cut to their wages. Wages they have planned their lives around. The increase in working weekends for some, equally impacts on family life, something that is currently planned around existing rotas.
Staff are not happy about the changes, but most staff are aware of the difficulties facing the Council. UNISON believes the majority of staff will feel compelled to accept the changes at their own personal cost, due to their commitments to the home and the residents. The staff believe that Aberdeenshire Council is coercing them into this decision because of their commitments.
Inez Teece Assistant Branch Secretary