Renfrewshire Council is being asked to do more to help hard-pressed carers take a break during the coronavirus pandemic.

As a result of lockdown rules, many have nowhere to go to get out of the cold, use the toilet or make themselves a hot meal or drink in between visiting vulnerable clients in their homes.

And social distancing restrictions on the number of staff who can use council vehicles are making it harder to get to premises made available for rest breaks.

One carer, who works in the Lochfield area of Paisley but asked not to be named, told The Gazette: “We’ve worked through the last 11 months without anywhere to go for our breaks and, to be frank, it has been very hard.

“There is nowhere to go to get out of the cold, use a kettle to get a hot drink or have a microwave meal.

“Some of my colleagues have to stand on a pavement to eat or drink their tea.

“We’ve been promised that a room will be made available at a local sheltered housing complex but not until late summer or early autumn.

“We don’t want a clap for carers – we just need a spot where we can get out of the cold, have a meal and enjoy some downtime before going to our next client.”
Mark Ferguson, Unison branch secretary for Renfrewshire, has held a series of meetings with council bosses in a bid to improve the situation for carers.

He said: “We’ve been trying to address the break facilities for care workers for some time.

“They’ve done a fantastic job dealing with Covid on the frontline. The NHS couldn’t cope if these care workers were not in situ.

“With the weather situation in the last few weeks, breaks have become more of an issue.

“I have total sympathy with these care workers, as they are an isolated workforce.

“Councillors we’ve spoken with agree that the matter has to be addressed as a matter of urgency.

“A lot of these workers are low paid and they should have a place where they can at least go to cook a meal for themselves.

“There hasn’t been as much progress as we would have liked but we’ll keep pressing the local authority on this.”

A spokesman for Renfrewshire Health and Social Care Partnership, which delivers social care and community health services in the local area, said current restrictions mean many of the locations the team would normally use for breaks are not available.

He added: “We have identified six locations across Renfrewshire that are currently suitable for this purpose.

“We appreciate the current facilities are not within easy walking distance for some of our colleagues, particularly those working in the Lochfield area.

“This is why we are working closely with Communities, Housing and Planning Services to adapt facilities at Rowan Court to make them suitable and safe for staff as soon as we possibly can.”