A care assistant at a Derry care home has described how she and her colleagues feel ‘undervalued’ during the coronavirus pandemic.
It was revealed today that almost half of the COVID-19 deaths in Northern Ireland have taken place in care homes.
Demands have been made for more to done to tackle the rate of infection within the care home sector.
As concerns grow over the death rate in residential homes, a care assistant at one of Derry’s care homes has contacted the Derry News to highlight how she and her colleagues are feeling during the current crisis.
She asked for the care home where she works not to be identified as she is worried she could lose her job for speaking out.
“I’m working in care home, as a care assistant. I absolutely love how rewarding my role is,” the woman said.
“However, I feel undervalued and underprivileged due to the current pandemic.
“We currently receive £8.73 per hour and that is including the pay rise at April.
“We work 12-hour shifts providing care, support and love to our residents.
“Staffing levels are always affected. We don’t have the correct number of nurses/carers to patient ratio.”
The woman said she and her colleagues had approached the owners of their home about their situation.
“No one understands the impact it has on us physically and mentally as we care for residents with dementia and Alzheimers.
“We have no support, only from our nurses who are always under a lot of stress and undervalued.
“We are not allowed agency staff to work during the pandemic which is making us work more days/hours of our contract, resulting in us missing our families and leaving us exhausted.
“We are mothers, daughters, fathers and are scared everyday leaving our children/families to come to work.
“We have tried to ask for a pay rise as the work we do is very heavy, exhausting and challenging.
“However, due to lack of support and help I feel I have to option but to let people know how undervalued carers and nurses feel.”
A Derry councillor has called for more support for staff in care homes.
“Currently many care homes are only offering Statutory Sick Pay to staff who have contracted COVID-19 in the course of their work. This is not acceptable,” said Sinn Fein councillor Sandra Duffy.
“Care home staff are working hard in difficult conditions to protect residents from COVID-19. In some cases, care home staff are working alongside Health Trust staff, who if they become ill will be entitled to full pay.
“Care homes are in the front line in combatting COVID-19. Recent NISRA statistics highlighted that over 40% of all deaths are occurring within care homes. Staff working in care homes deserve the respect and protections afforded to other health and social care staff.”
Local People Before Profit councillor Shaun Harkin also criticised the treatment of care workers.
"It is a scandal that front line workers in many private care homes don't receive sick pay from their employer,” he said.
"They are being punished for putting themselves on the front line. Workers have every right to take action now to demand full sick pay.”
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