We do it because we care

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Hayleigh Furlong, a personal assistant with Enable Scotland, says overnight care is definitely not all about sleeping (This article was submitted by Enable Scotland)

4th August 2017 by Robert Armour 0 Comments

I work in supported living, and do shifts where I can be with a person for 24 hours. During that time, I work an 8 hour overnight support shift where I stay in a person’s home through the night to support them whenever they need me.

I receive a payment of £28 for every overnight support shift I do. This payment gets ‘topped up’ each month so that I’m paid at least the National Minimum Wage across all my working hours.

This is fairly common across the sector. However, I would be paid more if I only worked day shifts – which are paid at the higher Scottish Living Wage rate.

The word “sleepover” isn’t accurate, as I’m regularly woken up during my overnight shifts, and even when not needed am always on standby. 

There have been times where I have provided overnight support to people who are really unwell. I can be tired, and all I can do is listen out and, if needed, provide the support they need and make them as comfortable as possible.

So why do we do it? Why do we do this when we know we deserve to be paid more? We work in social care because we do just that - we care.

We stay alert throughout the night and don't complain about our wage, because we understand that, for some people, every penny of their budget is used to provide their basic care.

For so many people, there's just no money left over for quality of life or contingencies. However, the fact of the matter is, we as workers also deserve fair pay.

As social care professionals, what we do is challenging - and yet we keep a smile on our faces and keep working hard for the people we support, as they deserve the best quality of care. 

Every organisation should be campaigning for fairer overnight support pay

So, how can the organisations we work for keep us motivated and positive in what could be perceived as difficult conditions?

Theresa Shearer, chief executive of Enable Scotland, has expressed her commitment to campaign for fairer overnight support pay for the frontline staff within the organisation. She recognises that Enable’s staff are its greatest resource.

The charity is committed to pay staff the Scottish Living Wage for every hour of work, day and night.

However, social care budgets are out of their control, and are set to fall even further due to funding cuts, so the possibility of fair pay looks even less likely.

The charity clearly knows that they have a workforce worth investing in, and knowing that our organisation has belief in us helps motivate me to carry out my job effectively.

Every organisation should be campaigning for fairer overnight support pay for their staff, and not just because it will motivate staff.

It is our right to be paid the same rate for every hour that we work.