Thank you so much to everyone who participated in the first All Ireland Comfort Keepers’ Webinar series. We deeply appreciate your questions and suggestions and hope to build upon this for a regular series of Webinars in the future.
For anyone who missed the Webinars or didn’t have the chance to get their questions answered during the Webinar, we have put together a Q&A of all of the questions asked throughout them.
Check below for answers to those questions.
I would just like to find out if the new people are being given 20 hours or more contracts now when employed. Does this mean us older carers will lose hours as we don’t have specific hour contracts?
No, not at all. We’re very conscious that lots of our staff have different interests and requirements for work. We have some that want to work five hours, some that want to work 40. Contracts are open to anyone who wants to apply for them. Link in with your branch manager if you are in the position to look at a contract and that it suits you. Absolutely go for it.
Contract hours are for taking on new work and for carers that asked for it for some stability and guaranteed weekly wage.
No one is losing hours – please have a chat with your local branch and HR if you want more hours.
Will I be getting paid more if I am caring for someone with Covid 19?
Yes. We have made a clear commitment that you will get paid more because there is a great responsibility associated. At the moment we haven’t been allocated more pay, but as a company, we have made a clear decision that we will pay more.
I thought we were going to be paid every 2 weeks. Is that ever going to happen and will our pay be increased from 11.50 / 12.00 an hour?
It is still our intention to change payroll frequency. Unfortunately, the project has been paused due to Covid. Lots of work has been done and it is still on our agenda.
At this current time, the HSE rate of pay differs from regional areas to Dublin and our payment to you reflects this difference. It’s not ideal but it’s connected to the rates we get paid. It’s always on our agenda with the HSE as we continue to work to improve conditions for all.
Is there any overnight or full-day type clients available?
The majority of our work is transactional – hour by hour eg. people may need support for an hour in the morning or in the night or both.
A small minority of clients may want overnight or full daycare. If you are interested in this type of care please continue to let your manager know at a local level so they can continue to keep you in mind for this.
In this time of COVID, can all carers be sent to the same clients weekly (for single and double-up calls), especially the double-up calls? I have a situation where a second carer has been doing a double up call with me for the last 3 weeks, but she was taken off the roster and replaced with another carer even when she was available to do the call.
The principles of reducing traffic going into homes should be adhered to. We are trying our utmost to do that – sometimes it may go awry due to unforeseen circumstances. Your feedback is important and we have added contact details for you to contact us directly so we can find out more about the situation and deal with it appropriately.
Are we going to be getting a pay rise like all other home care and nursing homes?
We always review the pay. We need to safely get through Covid at the moment. We have taken a drop in revenue because all care cancelled is not paid for. We also have to face costs associated with Covid-19. Pay is always on our agenda and we will continue to review it.
We have made a clear commitment that you will get paid more for caring for someone with Covid-19.
Last week it was asked if the offices could arrange a meeting point within the towns where there are many carers. But yet we are still asked to collect masks and PPE from the office. Many of us are stretched to the max with family and work. Also to drive down once a week is a strain on pockets too as the hours going at the moment are few and far between.
Because we needed to get the distribution of PPE out very quickly we didn’t have the resources to go everywhere this week. We had to stock everyone with PPE last week and now there can be room for providing larger amounts of PPE in one go. There was discussion last week after the meeting and this is definitely something we’re looking into.
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org with your interest in more hours.
Is there any chance for all carers to be tested for COVID? Can this be organised by the office just to keep our fears down?
This probably will happen in the future. Testing will be further expanded out over the full healthcare sector so we should have feedback from government and public health on that in the coming weeks and we will follow their advice around testing and symptoms.
Just wondering do we as HCA have to or are we going to be temperature checking ourselves?
Public health guidelines have come out around temperature checking and noting and monitoring your temperature. Where you can do it we will ask that you do. If you have restrictions, ask your local branch.
What is the hierarchy of making a complaint?
Each branch manager reports to senior management so there is always a link to them.
Please contact your Branch Manager with any complaints and if you still have concerns you would like addressed, please contact HR (email@example.com) and we will ensure that your complaint is dealt with. We take all complaints seriously.
How long can I stay in self-isolation which was recommended by my GP due to underlying medical conditions?
Only your GP can answer this. Some of our over 70s staff have been asked to cocoon and we must follow Public Health advice. Talk to your GP and get their advice.
My mask straps keep breaking.
When ordering PPE from our suppliers, we do great due diligence on checking their certification and quality status. That may be an action point for our training department in providing guidance on how to take masks on and off without breaking them.
Will Comfort Keepers be providing hand sanitizer?
There hasn’t been public health guidance on it but we do have some. If you don’t have access to facilities to wash hands with hot soapy water etc whilst working we can supply some. Ask your local branch for this.
I work 6 days a week and under the 30-hour contract is it possible to work 5 days
It depends on your area and availability. Link in with your office to see if there are options for changing.
How can an agency like Nurse on-call offer nearly €38 per hour in a nursing home and you’re saying no extra funds available from HSE?
Home care has not received extra funds from the HSE in relation to Covid-19. However, we will keep this under review and can absolutely assure you if any extra funds are given this will be reflected in your pay. We will always communicate with you if anything changes.
Can you get tested twice obviously at later dates?
I believe you can but you would have to contact your GP and Public Health for more details.
Some of my clients are enquiring when will this virus be over and unfortunately I can’t say any more than anyone else, so I try to reassure them and is there any right answer for their query as they do live in fear of it and find it strange.
It’s incredibly challenging for them. Knowing what the future may be is very hard. Don’t be afraid to have the conversations and take it day by day. Setting activities like art or music has been helping some people as well as reminiscence therapy. It’s good for us all from a mental health perspective to take a break from the news so you can recommend that.
There’s no right answer to when this is going to end. We’re likely to be living with this for some time to come.
Some carers were in contact with a Covid-19 client but did not know at that time. Do they get paid extra still?
Any carer that was working with a client with Covid-19 will be paid extra for that care. Please contact your local branch, you will be paid from that time. We will work with everyone through the nuances.
I am currently not working as I have no options for childcare due to the current pandemic, as I don’t know when I can return to work. How long can I stay out for? Will I have my hours whenever I can return? This could be September until schools are back?
This is a tough one. On your return, there will be work for you however we cannot promise it will be with the same clients. We would hope so as consistency is so very important however there are always changes in home care. Keep in your contact with your office.
When a client passes away why are all of that clients carers not informed and only the main carer for that client are called to be told
That shouldn’t happen. All carers should be called. Apologies if that has happened, we will give feedback to the offices to ensure that won’t happen again.
Will I get the same hours once I get out of self-isolation?
We will have work for you but due to changes and developments in hours and clients, the hours may change. Please keep in contact with your local office.
Why do we have to travel 20 minutes or more to get a travel allowance when we could travel around from house to house most of the day all week?
It’s an industry issue that we’ve continued to lobby and seek guidance on. We will continue to work on it. We do ad hoc-ly pay people who have travelled a significantly further distance. Contact your local office for more advice on this to see what can be arranged.
Will the QQI level training start soon? Even if online?
We are reviewing this at the moment. The focus with everything at the moment is on Covid however this is a great question and something we will get back to you on as soon as we can.
Can carers get extra pay for weekends?
Our rates are based on HSE payment. The pay is extra on Sundays and Bank Holidays and your pay for those days reflects that.
What measures are being taken with the families of our clients? I have noticed that family members bring food or groceries to our clients. Our clients do not clean the products before storing them.
Our number one priority at the moment is ensuring the safety of our clients at this time. Please don’t be afraid to offer advice and support in relation to any areas where you think clients may be at risk of infection. Please report to your manager if you are concerned about anybody.
What does Comfort Keepers do when we as caregivers report that our clients present changes in their mood and social interaction as a result of being in quarantine?
We are sorry to hear this. If your clients live alone and you are concerned about them you need to contact your branch manager and discuss those fears. All of our offices have a clinical nurse lead who will set up a review with your client. The clinical nurse lead can also contact the clients family. There are also supports that have been put in place by the government at this time.
We encourage you to recommendA them to contact ALONE for assistance and support.