The Secret Lives Of Carers

Episodes

First
Broadcast
RepeatedComments
2015112420151130 (R4)

Disturbing stories from carers who look after vulnerable people in their own homes.

There's a silent army of workers who look after Britain's old and needy in their own homes. It's a rapidly growing group...but we rarely hear their stories.

In the first of two programmes, Sangita Myska follows the day-to-day lives of three care workers. We talk to the carers who do their jobs well and hear - in chilling detail - about the ones who do it badly.

"There was snow outside, the roads were bad. When I walked into the house I was struck by how cold it was. And what I saw next will stay with me forever. George was sitting, his skin grey from the cold. He was wet - a doubly incontinent man - and they hadn't put a pad on him. The blinds were shut, the lights were off, the telly was off, just waiting for someone to help".

It's a frustrating, revolving-door service where some of the visits last as little as 15 minutes. We hear of vulnerable people having up to 24 different carers a week and stories of basic care - and caring - being overlooked.

Jane - not her real name - is fairly new to care. We go with her on one of her visits - a lunchtime call to an elderly woman. The woman wanted a sandwich - but her bread was green with mould - despite the fact that she'd had a care worker in to make her breakfast and had three carers the previous day. Jane complains to her bosses - but she's not hopeful anything will change. She says her complaints so far have fallen on deaf ears.

The care workers are mostly on the minimum wage - or below. Staff turnover is twice that of any other industry. It's a disturbing picture of the state of domiciliary care.

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

20151201

2015120120151207 (R4)

There's a silent army of workers who look after the vulnerable in their own homes. This is the story of four care workers whose employers are pioneering new ways of running care services.

They are a world away from the experience most people have of home care workers. But - we ask - is it possible for the state sector to provide this kind of care without costs going through the roof.

We hear about the Wiltshire scheme which allows care workers to decide how long visits should be, and lets the elderly person decide how they want to spend the time with their care worker. It's seen some dramatic results - with elderly people signed off their books within weeks.

We meet Rochelle who - after 20 years in the care industry - and having seen some shocking care, has now found a company where she feels she really can care. She talks about the small but significant changes that make a world of difference.

Perrine works for a private care company which "matches" very closely the personality and interests of the care worker with the person being cared for.

And we talk to Ashleigh, a 24 year old who does end of life care. She works for the charity Leonard Cheshire. She earns little above the minimum wage - but she's totally committed to her job and to the people she looks after.

These carers and the organisations they work for are determined to change the state of home care. But what chance do they have with constantly diminishing budgets?

Producer: Adele Armstrong.

2015120120151207 (R4)

There's a silent army of workers who look after the vulnerable in their own homes. This is the story of four care workers whose employers are pioneering new ways of running care services.

They are a world away from the experience most people have of home care workers. But - we ask - is it possible for the state sector to provide this kind of care without costs going through the roof.

We hear about the Wiltshire scheme which allows care workers to decide how long visits should be, and lets the elderly person decide how they want to spend the time with their care worker. It's seen some dramatic results - with elderly people signed off their books within weeks.

We meet Rochelle who - after 20 years in the care industry - and having seen some shocking care, has now found a company where she feels she really can care. She talks about the small but significant changes that make a world of difference.

Perrine works for a private care company which "matches" very closely the personality and interests of the care worker with the person being cared for.

And we talk to Ashleigh, a 24 year old who does end of life care. She works for the charity Leonard Cheshire. She earns little above the minimum wage - but she's totally committed to her job and to the people she looks after.

These carers and the organisations they work for are determined to change the state of home care. But what chance do they have with constantly diminishing budgets?

Producer: Adele Armstrong.