Care staff who help some of the city’s most vulnerable or ill people at home with washing, eating and other essential daily tasks, are set to get a £1 an hour pay rise.
The news announced today (Thursday 15 March) by Manchester City Council means that home care assistants - who are often some of the lowest paid people in the city – will see their wage rise to £8.75 an hour, which is Manchester’s Living Wage*.
The move, which will be driven by a £1.5m cash boost from the council to commissioned organisations who supply care staff – on the condition that the money means employees will receive a proper living wage.
Currently, Manchester pays those home care businesses an average of £13.50 per hour for help in people’s homes. Now, it will go up to £15.20 per hour with the clear expectation that the rise will benefit care staff from April 1.
Long-term, the move is part of future ambitious plans between the council and its NHS partners for how services are commissioned , to recognise the invaluable role that the city’s home care staff provide, and to keep and attract more people to the role.
Councillor Bev Craig, Executive Member for Adult Services, Health and Wellbeing at Manchester City Council, said: “This money is a way of recognising the hard work of those workers who give the sort of daily care that’s not only practical, but is a lifeline in providing the dignity that we all need.
“We all know that some things like dignity and wellbeing can’t have a price put on them. But, in reality, when you consider how this sector keeps people living longer and better at home, you can see not only the moral, but economic reasons too.
“Quite simply, this is the right thing to do and by investing in our people and services we will also help with tackling shameful in-work poverty in Manchester.”
Today’s announcement also reflects key aims of Unison’s Ethical Care Charter, announced in October last year (2017), to ensure adequate staffing levels and sufficient time for workers to look after vulnerable people.
Manchester, through Manchester Health and Care Commissioning (a partnership between the Council and Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group) and the council working with the care market, staff and residents, and voluntary and community groups plan to lead the way in developing exemplary models of working, that value home care workers as a profession in a sector which rewards them properly and fairly for the important work they do.
Manchester Living Wage -
Case study 1: Lisa show that home is where the heart is
Lisa Walden, 48, is a home carer who covers Manchester, and is employed by Synergy Homecare. She has been a home carer for 11 years – and says she sees the work as an extension of caring for her own family. Here she talks about the highs, the lows and the practicalities of the role – including what a pay increase will mean - and why she feels grateful to say she has a job she loves.
“I’ve always looked after people – it’s just what I do with my life. I look after my kids and my husband and I also looked after my Dad and my Nanna when they were dying.
“It was a friend who suggested being a home care worker to me. I’ve had lots of different jobs in the past and at first I thought ‘no, it’s not for me’. But then I started the work and it’s honestly the best job I’ve ever had. It feels like a continuation of looking after my own family.
“That doesn’t mean it’s easy: some days I could do 11 or 12 visits in a day – and I know other people who do up to 20 visits.
“But, the thing that makes it all worth it – and still makes me buzz – is seeing my clients’ faces when I walk in. It just puts a smile on their faces, because for some of them, I will be the only person they see all day because they don’t have any family.
“When I’m there I will do any number of things from helping the person take their medication or have a meal. To be honest though, if I’ve done what’s needed, I’ll also do anything else they might need like cleaning the windows or simply staying to have a chat, which is so important.
“All my clients are long-term – and I’ve been working with them for years, which builds up a proper relationship. Some of them even say ‘you’re just like a granddaughter to me’. With older clients I want to be able to work with them until they pass away because I want them to have the reassurance of seeing the same person.
“The thing that brings me real job satisfaction is knowing I have made a difference. When I leave a visit, they will say things like ‘when are you coming again’ because they’ve enjoyed the company.
“This is the sort of job where you can go the extra mile. I have people I take out too, so that they actually get to leave the house, otherwise they could be in on their own the whole day. I’ll take them out shopping or maybe to a garden centre – it’s those little things that make a big difference.
“People say you shouldn’t get involved – but I think you shouldn’t be in a role like this if you don’t care about people. I even think about my clients when I’m off because I want to make sure they are being seen by people they know and trust.
“To me this pay increase means that our work has been acknowledged. The extra money per week will probably pay for half my petrol, which will help me to save for things at home like a family holiday. I’m the saver in our house and my husband pays the bills.
“More than anything it means we are being appreciated for our work. But, saying that, I have a group of nine close friends, who all earn more than me and we all have very different jobs. I easily have the least pay – but I’m the one who loves her work.”
Case Study 2: Lisa’s Boss Riz says appreciation is key to biz
Rizwan Muhammad, is Lisa’s boss and Chadderton and Manchester Branch Manager for Synergy Homecare, which provides care services across the country, says:
“This pay rise will give care staff a morale boost and make them feel more appreciated. Saying thank you to care staff is good - but there's no doubt the extra money is needed.
“We pay our home care staff £8 per hour - so the extra 75p an hour all adds up and helps with living costs.
“For us as employers it will help to recruit staff into the care sector - especially as sometimes we have to compete with similar salaries in supermarkets. If people in Manchester know you can get improved pay in the care sector with career progression it will encourage far more people to consider it."
* On 26 March 2014, the Council passed a resolution stating that it supports the principle of both introducing and maintaining a Living Wage for all of the Council’s directly employed staff, and of this being a requirement in contracts and sub-contracts, including agency workers and school staff.