'15' campaign

'15' campaign calls for fairness for all in independent homecare in Northern Ireland

A campaign dedicated to ending 15-minute visits and fee rates of £15 per hour, leading to unacceptably low pay rates for homecare workers in Northern Ireland, has been launched this week.

The Independent Health & Care Providers (IHCP) and United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) who represent over 2300 members in the UK, have come together to establish the '15' Campaign which aims to help homecare workers by calling for:

  • An end to £15 per hour rates for homecare in NI.
  • An end to 15-minute visits for older people NI currently has the highest level of 15-minute visits in the UK (over 30 per cent in Northern Ireland compared with 3.5 per cent in England);
  • Ensuring stability for the sector with fair contracts and fair rates.

These calls are in response to the woefully inadequate 34 pence increase to the hourly homecare rate announced by four of the five Health Trusts in Northern Ireland. This equates to an increase from £15.34 to just £15.68 per hour.

The Minister for Health, Mr Robin Swann MLA, has stated repeatedly that homecare workers deserve to be appropriately remunerated for their work, but that flies in the face of the reality. This increase means most homecare workers are paid at or just above the National Living Wage, despite the demands thrust upon them in their work.

The title of the campaign is especially symbolic of two things - the derisory £15 per hour homecare rates, and the inadequate 15-minute visits for older people, which quite simply is not long enough to meet their needs.

The CEO of IHCP, Pauline Shepherd, said:

"After the announcements of these unacceptable increases to the homecare rates in Northern Ireland, IHCP and UKHCA have jointly decided enough is enough.

"However well-intentioned these increases may have been, they are nowhere near the amount needed to sustain homecare workers in the current climate. These workers showed extraordinary bravery and resilience throughout the pandemic as they continued to put the needs of others before themselves. We are simply asking for fair contracts and fair rates for work which takes a toll on the workers involved."

The CEO of UKHCA, Dr Jane Townson, said:

"UKHCA calculates that regulated homecare that can afford to pay the UK real living wage would cost at least £22.73 per hour for 2021/22. Northern Ireland's fee rate is over £7 per hour below the UKHCA Minimum Price to pay careworkers the Real Living Wage. A cost-saving approach which requires providers to penny-pinch from all of their budget lines when the starting point is already so low is taking risks with the quality and safety of a regulated service. It also risks undermining the ability of providers to improve the working experience of careworkers, thereby further destabilising the workforce.

"Councils in England report a planned average hourly rate for homecare in 2021/22 of £18.49. This in itself is around £3 more than the amount offered in Northern Ireland, but still glaringly short of the amount required.

"So, what we are seeing are worrying issues throughout the UK, but most notably for services relied upon by many people and their families in Northern Ireland. Hopefully the Minister for Health does the right thing by intervening and ensuring fairness for all concerned."

IHCP and UKHCA are calling on everyone to sign the petition and make the Minister for Health and respective Trust CEOs reconsider their position. You can support the 15 campaign at the following link: http://chng.it/7NCS7RC8BP

'15' campaign calls for fairness for all in independent homecare in Northern Ireland