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  1. ITV Report

Carers workload 'previously done by district nurses'

Caring - and nursing - all in a day's work

People employed as carers are doing the work that nurses used to perform, says a care workers' boss.

Sarah Bradley, who runs Sheffield-based Sarah Care, providing 59 paid for carers across the city and in Chesterfield, says her employees face ever increasing workloads, including performing medical tasks, for the minimum wage.

"'The role that a care worker does now is what back then a district nurse would have done. They help with tissue care, skin care medication, catheter care, stoma care, peg feeding whereas years ago that would have been the role of the district nurse," she says.

With increasing demand for care in the community, Sarah says carers should be paid more for their extra duties:

''I don't feel that their pay reflects their responsibilities and I would love to be able to pay more but obviously because I can only charge a certain amount I can't - but I don't feel it reflects what the carers are doing."

As part of its Who Cares? series offering viewers a present day snap shot of the care system in Sheffield, ITV Calendar followed senior care worker Joanne Brown as she went about her morning's work.

Her first call was to Bev, a lady in her 50s with learning disabilities. Joanne has built up a close working relationship with many of her regular clients and was preparing that week to take Bev on a day trip to the theatre.

"Apart from my brother, I just see the carers," says Bev, who admits she would be lonely without their visits.

Carer Joanne calls on Bev

Joanne explains: ''Over the last few years people's care has been cut compared to years ago when a lot of people had social time and that seems to have been cut. Now they only have enough time to do the tasks that are necessary and not the social element.''

Joanne tidies Bev's flat, makes her a sandwich, gives medication and sorts laundry on her daily calls. Without the carers' help, Bev would face moving into a care home.

''Bev gets a certain amount of hours and it's up to her how she uses them. We have a rota done specifically for Bev but if she asks if we could we do something we would just swap her hours as and when as long as it didn't go over her hours. Sometimes it does but there you go, we don't mind,'' says Joanne.

Joanne visits war veteran Albert

She then visits war veteran Albert who at 92 loves living independently in his flat. Joanne and Albert enjoy a singalong of his favourite songs on many of her calls.

Again, without the carers' help with bathing, laundry, cleaning, Albert would have to leave his home and move into residential care. One of his regular carers also spotted that Albert was being fleeced of his savings by a conman who tricked him into handing over his life savings of £10,000 for bogus arthritis drugs.

Albert, who has arthritis of the spine, reveals how grateful he is for the carers' vigilance: ''They helped to spot it and I appreciate all what they did for me and to get that sorted out.''

For Joanne and her colleagues, it is all in a day's work as they are now fund raising to replace the sprightly pensioner's stolen savings. Who Cares? They do.

Martin Fisher joined Joanne to see at first hand the demands she faces.

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