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Photo essay: Barnet’s disastrous privatisation of elderly care

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Fremantle careworkers believed that the standard of care for elderly carehome residents deteriorated as staff were forced to work longer hours and as poorly-paid, inexperienced new staff were recruited to the new contract (Fremantle management even went to Hungary to recruit people who would work for low pay).

Careworkers were well aware of concerns about care standards across the elderly-care sector and doubted things would improve as staff conditions worsened.

Careworker Lango Gamanga said: 'Fremantle are cheating us. They make us look after so many people at one time. Most of the homes are short staffed (Fremantle’s annual reports discussed problems with staff retention).'

'Some of the residents haven''t got any family, so they take you as their family. They dread when we take days off. It's an important service that we're giving,' said careworker Jackie Mitchell.

Members of the public saw that point and turned out to support strikers. 'My mother was in the Merrivale resthome,' an elderly man called John Clarke told me at one strike rally. 'They [the careworkers] looked after her so well. My mother wasn’t rich. She lived in a council flat all her life. [The careworkers] were great to her. They took her out to places and they really looked after her.'

'The whole notion of carework is being derailed. I wouldn’t recommend going into the care sector now. It’s the whole working ethos. It feels a bit like a warehouse,' said careworker Carmel Reynolds.

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Kate Belgrave blogs on the experience of public service users facing cuts.

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