South West Wales

Ex-carers had 'too little travel time' between jobs

Elderly man Image copyright PA
Image caption The women said they were the only people some of their elderly clients spoke to in a day

Two former workers at a care company have cited the stress of cutting short visits because they were not allocated enough travel time between calls as a factor in quitting their jobs.

The women both worked for Village Home Care in Carmarthenshire, where they were only allowed five minutes to get from one rural location to another.

One visit was 16 miles (26km) from the last, a journey time of 25 minutes.

Parent company Mitie said it would investigate the allegations.

Mitie own MiHomeCare, of which Village Home Care is a part, which operates throughout Wales and England.

MiHomeCare is currently being examined by HM Revenue and Customs over pay after an internal review examining pay at its Penarth branch in the Vale of Glamorgan found workers were effectively not being paid the minimum wage as they were not paid for time spent travelling between appointments.

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Media captionCare workers talk about the difficulties caused by lack of travel time

The women, named only as Clare and Emma, told BBC Radio Four that long hours, stress and the practice of "clipping", as cutting short visits to enable the workers to reach the next client on time is called, had led to them both resigning from the company.

Clare described a journey from a rural location between St Clears and Llanybri to the east side of Carmarthen which would take far longer than the time allocated for travelling.

"It's going to take us 25 minutes and we're going 16.1 miles and we've got five minutes to do it in," she said.

'It breaks your heart'

Both felt the people they cared for were affected by the practice.

Emma said: "Bear in mind that for some of them we are the only people they spoke to in that day.

"And then we're running out of there in 15 to 20 minutes because we know the travelling time to the next call is more than the travelling time we've been allowed. It breaks your heart."

Clare added: "Some people used to say 'small wash today we haven't got time' and you'd say 'We need to do a full wash'. This person is going to be in bed until lunchtime maybe. You have to give them a full wash.

"It's not the fault of the carers although it does sound as though it is. It's going back to the company and how it's run."

Both women said they came under pressure not to let visits overrun.

A report by the Care and Social Services Inspectorate Wales raised some concerns about working hours and stress among employees, and recommended reviewing travel times between calls depending on location.

Mitie said in a statement the employees had raised some serious allegations and they were going to conduct an investigation into them.

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