Posted by: Helen Giles26/11/2010
Last week I posted a piece about those workers in care and support roles who abuse the system and their service users by wilfully holding down two or more jobs on concurrent hours.
There was a range of responses, from the person who acknowledged world-wearily that this has been going on for years, to one or two who suggested that my only motive in raising the issue is to drum up more business for Real People.
Just to put the record straight, Real People is not a personnel consultancy business as such; it’s a social enterprise, the primary objective of which is to help raise people management standards in the sector. It is part of Broadway, the homelessness charity, of which I have been HR Director for many years. Yes Real People does generate some income to be gift-aided into Broadway’s work with our homeless clients, but if I were writing articles with a view to generating consultancy business, I would stick to writing bland ‘apple pie and mum’ advice about non-controversial issues.
I acknowledge the response from one person that management must take a lot of the blame; I would not deny this and have written many articles about the need for improved people management in service provider organisations. I also acknowledge that the majority of those working in care and support are hard-working, committed people and the ones I’m talking about are a minority. But they are a very significant minority. And the first task of good management is to select only the right people with the right attitudes to do the best by their service users and keep all the rest out.
My sources of information on this significant minority of fraudsters, cheats and abusers (which I would estimate to be in the region of 15% on average across all social care services, including elderly, homelessness, mental illness and learning difficulties, substance misuse) are myriad, of long-standing, and reinforced by new examples on a weekly basis. I could write a book but here are a few recent examples:
- Despite the fact that at Broadway we have very stringent recruitment and selection standards and techniques, every year we withdraw an average of 25% of our job offers when our referencing throws up a history of wrong-doing on the part of the candidates. The majority are front-line staff whether we like it or not.
- A recent example was someone currently working in a hostel for elderly homeless men who our researches revealed to have been struck off the nursing register a few years ago for abuse and neglect of elderly patients – including, leaving an elderly person to lie soaked in urine while he made phone calls.
- We recently inherited thorough TUPE a support worker who it transpired, after a bit of rudimentary detective work, had been holding down the roles of assistant project manager for one homelessness provider and support worker for another, on concurrent hours. The astounding thing was that this had been going on not for 13 weeks or 13 months but for 13 years. Thirteen, unlucky for some – in this case, as with all others like it, the service users. Of course the management (or lack of it) that allowed this to happen holds a very large degree of the culpability here, but that doesn’t take away from the fact that individuals like this must be held personally accountable for their own dishonesty, and we must take vigilant measures to keep them out of our services.
Whether I write under my Broadway hat or Real People hat, I’ll remain dedicated to promoting the necessity for good people management, support and staff development in all social care services, and highlighting examples of good practice as well as poor.
I, like plenty of others, am fed up to the back teeth with seeing people like the above getting around the sector with impunity because of their own dishonesty and the negligence of employers who don’t do thorough staff selection and pre-employment screening and don’t manage staff performance properly. As the other respondent I refer to said, it’s been going on for years, and I won’t keep quiet about it until I see a change.
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