2.2 The service user’s perspective
We now switch from the care worker’s perspective to that of the service user – or client as they are referred to in our case study. The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO, 2012) highlighted the following points from complaints it had handled:
- Unreliability: care workers did not always come when they were expected, or they were late.
- Short visits: some as brief as 15 minutes, which did not allow time to complete the tasks, or exchange pleasantries.
- Frequent changes of staff: this meant that service users did not get to know the workers.
- Poorly trained staff: staff did not always have the right skills or attitudes, or did not treat service users with respect.
This creates a pretty bleak picture of home care. The next activity provides a different perspective on it.
Activity 3 Home care: the client's perspective
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You have seen the value of home care as a way of enabling people to live in their own homes, with a reasonable quality of life, rather than in a residential home or, in Brian’s case, a hospital.
These service users get a higher standard of care than those who complained to the Local Government Ombudsman (LGO). There is some choice of care worker, some flexibility, and the fact that no one comments on reliability suggests that they can indeed rely on people arriving when they are due. They value people who get to know how they like things done, who are friendly, who treat them as human beings.
Meeting people’s needs in ways that are both professional and friendly, and flexible and reliable is not straightforward. It is, however, a very important responsibility. How would Clarice manage if for any reason Liz or another worker was unable to come? She might be in considerable difficulty and distress. To run a care agency that can provide the flexibility and, at the same time, the reliability of service that clients want is a significant challenge.