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Westminster council chief pledges to improve care for elderly
07 May 2014 14:21 by Liz Dodd

One of London’s biggest councils has agreed to reform its care for the elderly after a presentation by the St Vincent de Paul Society on Tuesday showed the service is in crisis.

The society together with other Catholic groups under the auspices of the community group, West London Citizens, persuaded Westminster Council to review its social care provision and improve pay and conditions for care workers.

During the presentation Betty Roberts, 90, told the assembly that her Vincentian carer, who “helped her cope”, was not paid a realistic wage or for travelling time between clients. “This impacts on what she is able to do,” she added.

“I need a living wage to support my son,” her carer, Elizabeth Kuola responded. “I work 11 hour days, but I’m only paid for seven because of the time it takes to travel. I treat my clients with dignity – I should be treated with dignity too.”

However when Ms Roe was asked whether she would commit the council to paying its staff the Living Wage, an amount calculated to reasonably cover the cost of living, she said existing contracts made this impossible for now.

Afterwards she told The Tablet that authorities needed to work closely with churches on issues around care because they knew better the situations of need people were facing.

“The care programme can go so far, but actually what needs to go further is dealing with things like lonelinesss,” she said. “If you can get a network where the two go hand in hand, that can be incredibly strong and valuable. Churches have got the tentacles in the community so they know when something’s going wrong. What we need is information. Unless someone tells us that someone’s in difficulty – we haven’t got ESP, we don’t know.”

The meeting, which was held at City of Westminster College, was also attended by representatives from Holy Apostles church in Pimlico, the London Oratory school in Kensington, the Church of the Immaculate Conception, in Farm Street, Mayfair and the Sisters of Mercy.