Care Workers

Care work in a neoliberal era

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How is it that vulnerable people can suffer abuse from people paid to look after them? Lee Humber argues that part of the answer lies in the ruthless profiteering infecting the care industry.

It’s four years since the physical and verbal abuse of people with learning disabilities living at the Winterbourne View home in Gloucestershire was exposed. An undercover documentary made by the BBC revealed sickening abuse secretly filmed by a journalist posing as a care worker. Staff at the home were subsequently jailed.

Caring for profit

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The economist Joseph Schumpeter had a fine phrase to describe market competition - it's all about "creative destruction". Market enthusiasts love the creative bit. They tend to keep quiet about the destructive side. And this is especially so if the destruction potentially involves the biggest care home provider for the elderly in Britain.

If you have not heard of it then take note - it's called Southern Cross. It runs 600 care homes under its own brand and operates a further 70 as Ashbourne Senior Living and 47 as Active Care Partnerships. Together they have 38,000 beds and 40,000 staff.

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