Outsourcing care: A disaster for staff and patients
In 2011, Southend Care (renamed to Essex County Care in 2015), set up a new company, Leicestershire County Care Ltd (LCC Ltd), which took over nine care homes from Leicester City Centre. This move was sold as a measure that would save the council £1million per year. As one leading council member put it: “I am delighted that LCC Ltd will invest considerable sums to ensure high quality care and it has pledged to maintain employment”.
By May 2020, “maintaining employment” came to mean the blackmailing of staff into signing new contracts for a 30% pay cut, along with changes to sick pay and reduced holidays. On June 22, a notice of dismissal was sent out to around 100 members of staff, alterting them that if these new contracts were not accept, they would face being sacked. All this while the country clapped every Thursday in praise of essential workers as heroes, which clearly shows the contempt LCC Ltd has for its staff.
Fast forward to the beginning of August. LCC Ltd makes the headlines again, this time with reports from the Care Quality Commission (CQC), highlighting the inadequate state of three care homes, with a further two in severe need of improvement. As it is put on the CQC website: “The provider failed to make enough improvements since our last inspections, where we identified concerns”. This appears to be a recurring theme, which rings equally true for Essex County Care Homes and Strathmore Care Ltd.
In reality, all three of these businesses are under the control of the same owner: Dr D.S. Vive Kanada. And this is exactly what they are – businesses. The label ‘care home’ is almost an insult those living in these homes, which are often vulnerable people. Staff have also received shocking treatment, often facing unsafe and dangerous conditions, with little attention and care from management.
This reveals the rotten nature of the type of ‘care’ that capitalism delivers from people. Instead of being run for profit, care homes should be taken out of the private sector and reintegrated into a publicly owned and democratically-run NHS, with full union rights and workers control for all staff. Only this would guarantee full accountability and equal distribution of resources.
This fiasco shows quite clearly again why nationalisation and socialism is needed. Not only do we need better control of funds and support for staff, but we have to bring an end to the model of ‘homes for profits’. We all know the horrendous cost faced by residents of care homes. Yet looking through the CQC website, they far too often get very little for their money.