Penrose Care praises and contributes to Baroness Kingsmill’s efforts to improve England’s care system

Belsize Village, London, 05 Mar 2014:
London’s ethical home care provider, Penrose Care, was honoured to be invited to the Kingsmill Review’s roundtable discussion at the House of Lords held yesterday, March 4 th , on “How can we improve working conditions in the Care Sector? ” The roundtable was led by Labour peer Baroness Denise Kingsmill CBE and attended by charities including Citizens UK and Carers UK; unions including Unison, Unite and the Royal College of Nursing; some experts and consultants including Dr. Chai Patel CBE FRCP and PwC; and a handful of health and social care providers including Four Seasons Health Care, Bupa and Penrose Care. Penrose Care was represented by its managing director, Robert Stephenson-Padron.
“We praise Baroness Kingsmill’s efforts to improve England’s health and social care system and we were honoured to be assisting in her review into exploitation in the care sector,” said Mr. Stephenson-Padron. “As a pioneer of ethics in home care, it is part of Penrose Care’s core beliefs that it is not only sufficient for us to hold to high standards within our own immediate remit, but also to promote ethical standards outside of our remit.”Although Penrose Care is proud to be among England’s first and still handful of Accredited Living Wage Employers in the home care sector and a founding backer of Citizens UK’s landmark Social Care Charter, for which Penrose Care is also compliant (1); we felt that in formulating our policy recommendations to the review, we had to focus on getting the care system to a state in which it gets the basics right first.We therefore made three policy recommendations to the Kingsmill Review:
Recommendation 1)
Penrose Care strongly recommends Robert Francis QC’s call for the compulsory registration and regulation of Health and Care Support Workers (HCSWs) which we believe is vital to improve and unify standards of training and attracting and retaining more individuals to the sector that consider home care as a vocation and profession. We are pleased that the Royal College of Nursing, also in attendance at the review, formally support this policy recommendation as well (2). We also see 56% of respondents of the Guardian / Department of Health 2013 home care survey citing insufficient training as a major challenge for care workers as suggesting general consensus for such an initiative (3).In promoting the formal professionalisation of social care work, Mr. Stephenson-Padron highlighted the importance of home care workers by praising the bravery and courage of the homecare workers of the Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), an American humanitarian organisation, that have been providing uninterrupted home care to members of the Jewish community in Kiev, Ukraine during the recent unrest (4). Penrose Care would also highlight England’s care workers who have recently been working courageously in parts of England that have flooded this winter (5) and a survey finding 93% of HCSW’s surveyed back compulsory registration (6) as further justifications of the need for formal profesionalisation of the adult social care workforce.
Recommendation 2)
Safeguard the integrity of the care sectorby properly enforcing the National Minimum Wage and regulating directly-employed personal assistantsThe Kingsmill Review notes that Labour Party leader Ed Milliband at his 2013 Conference speech said that “we’ve got to call a halt to the race to the bottom.” Penrose Care infers that this is a reference to the Local Authority home care bidding system which puts downward pressure on prices paid for care, which has contributed to persistent downward pressure on the working conditions of Britain’s homecare workforce. In order to safeguard the social care system, we strongly recommend that 0 is not the bottom the system is racing towards by HM Government calling on HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) to better enforce the National Minimum Wage (NMW), non-compliance of which is not uncommon in England’s home care sector (7).A serious issue with the NMW not being effectively enforced is it financially undermines the care sector. The reason is that those providers complying with the pertinent laws are put at a cost disadvantage in bidding for Local Authority contracts, which could potentially result in them exiting the market and leaving the non-compliant operators in place. We further noted to Baroness Kingsmill that the simple enforcement of the NMW, could alone result in improved adult social care commissioning practices as seen in Westminster City Council when it took measures to reduce home care worker travel time between homes to improve compliance with the NMW among its contracting companies after it came under criticism from Councillors (8).We also recommended that unregulated personal assistants be brought under compulsory registration and that Local Authorities be required to stop actively promoting the unregulated sector, for which we have noticed common safety risks and which undermines the financial integrity of the formal, regulated care sector. Just as a person would not generally go to a random unregulated shop for prescription medications, it is unacceptable that Local Authorities actively encourage vulnerable individuals to use the unregulated personal assistants sector.
Recommendation 3)
Explore more innovative society-wide ways to improve funding of the sector such as promoting employer-led funding
Earlier this month, BBC News (9) reported that some major British employers including Sainsbury’s, British Gas and NHS England have put in place elderly care services for employees as part of their benefit packages. Penrose Care sees this as a very positive development that could lead to a substantial improvement in the funding of the home care sector from the private sector, and thus providing scope for improving the working conditions of home care workers and indeed, the quality of care delivered by them.As the Kingsmill review wishes to explore improving the working conditions of care workers without increasing the public costs, we strongly encourage the review to explore policies that could encourage the growth of employer-funded elderly care benefit packages that pay over and above average rates for care. We recommend this important element as it would allow care providers to accept lower-margin work say from Local Authorities without sacrificing their overall financial health and therefore not necessarily putting at risk the quality of care.***Penrose Care wishes Baroness Kingsmill all the best as she continues her review into England’s care system and stand ready to further assist her in her efforts to improve the working conditions of care workers and by doing so, improve outcomes for those the elderly and disabled persons they care for.
(1) Hathway, Nina, “Profile: ‘To promote a caring workforce, the organisation itself must be caring’ says Penrose Care managing director”: 04 Dec 2013 (Homecare.co.uk), available online:http://www.homecare.co.uk/news/article.cfm/id/1561802/to_promote_a_caring_workforce
(2) House of Lords Care Bill committee stage briefing (RCN, 2013 or 2014), available online:http://www.rcn.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0003/527907/RCN_House_of_Lords_Committee_stage_briefing_on_the_Care_Bill.pdf
(3) Burke, Claire, “Time, pay and lack of training are main challenges for homecare staff”: 30 Oct 2013 (The Guardian), available online:http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2013/oct/30/main-challenges-homecare-survey-findings
(4) JDC Delivers Aid to Homebound Kiev Jews: 22 Feb 2014 (Joint Distribution Committee), available online:http://www.jdc.org/jdc-field-blog/2014/jdc-delivers-aid.html?s=g_npr_in
(5) Corbett, Julia, “Committed home carers battle severe floods proving dedication to caring vocationContact”: 9 Jan 2014 (Homecare.co.uk), available online:http://www.homecare.co.uk/news/article.cfm/id/1562071/committed-home-carers-battling-bad-weather-prove-dedication
(6) Triggle, Nick, “Healthcare assistants ‘want professional register’”: 11 Apr 2013 (BBC News), available online:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22097929
(7) Ramesh, Randeep, “Social care providers flouting minimum wage rules, tax inspectors find”: 30 Oct 2013 (Guardian), available online:http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2013/oct/30/main-challenges-homecare-survey-findings
(8) Westminster Council in Home Care Workers Minimum Wage scandal: 3 Jan 2014 (Labour Westminster), available online:http://labourwestminster.wordpress.com/2014/01/03/westminster-council-in-home-care-workers-minimum-wage-scandal/
(9)Bomford, Andrew, “Will eldercare be as common as childcare?”: 3 Mar 2014 (BBC News), available online: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-26341378
Robert Stephenson-PadronManaging Director
Penrose Care
9 McCrone Mews
Belsize Lane
Hampstead
London NW3 5BG (GB)T 020 7435 2644
F 020 3514 8992
robert.padron@penrosecare.co.uk
www.penrosecare.co.uk
About Penrose Care
Penrose Care was established in 2012 in response to what its founders perceived as a need to fundamentally reform the home care industry in the UK. The vision of Penrose Care is simple – we aspire to deliver an excellent and professional care at home services to our clients combined with compassion, so that all those that we care for feel just that – cared for. We believe that if we are to fulfil our mission of providing “home care with a human touch”, then we have to employ the best care professionals in the industry. We feel that we have just that team, and have built this up by focusing heavily on looking after our staff so that we can be confident in the superior quality of our home care services. Penrose Care is headquartered in Belsize Village, north London and was founded by Robert Stephenson-Padron, a healthcare research analyst, and Dr. Matthew Knight, a hospital physician.
About the Kingsmill Review
In his 2013 Conference speech, Ed Miliband said that “we’ve got to call a halt to the race to the bottom, between workers already here and workers coming here”, and pledged action to stop the exploitation of workers and the undercutting of their wages.To get this process underway Ed Miliband has asked Baronness Kingsmill to lead a review to better understand and tackle exploitation in the care sector, to report back with recommendations in the following areas: 1) Non-payment of the minimum wage, 2) Use of zero hours contracts, 3) Related issues such as lack of payment for travel time and staff having to pay for training and uniforms.

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