Major Somerset care provider achieves silver award in UNISON’s coronavirus safety charter

UNISON has today (Friday) awarded Discovery a silver award for meeting key standards in UNISON’s Care Worker Safety Charter.

The award signals that Discovery are a regional leader in the fight against the spread of Coronavirus in care homes.

Silver award recognises that Discovery have proactively engaged with UNISON and has met most of the six standards in UNISON’s charter. Specifically, Discovery has worked since the beginning of the pandemic to provide adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) to its 1100 staff and ensure the necessary infection control procedures are in place across its 52 care homes.

Discovery has also taken steps to ensure their pay and leave policies mean staff can access testing, take the necessary steps to self-isolate should they have symptoms of Coronavirus or shield as advised by the NHS.

Over the coming months UNISON and Discovery will be working in partnership to improve health and safety by establishing a new committee, giving staff an important voice on how they are protected and supported in the workplace.

The six standards in UNISON’s charter include ensuring care workers have access to testing and the personal protective equipment they need. It also includes commitments to ensure no care worker loses their job or income as a result of Coronavirus, and that workers have a say on how to keep their workplace safe in the future.

Over the coming weeks UNISON expects more care providers to sign up to the charter and work with UNISON to implement these minimum standards in their workplaces. A list of the best-performing care homes will be published and those providers not meeting the basic standards will also be named.

UNISON regional manager Kerry Baigent said:

“Social care staff are on the frontline as we tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, now is the time for decisive and proactive action to slow the spread of the virus by supporting and protecting care workers.

“It’s fantastic that a care provider as large as Discovery has taken practical steps to protect its workers. We now want to see other providers signing up to the charter and taking similar, effective action to help protect some of the most vulnerable members of society.”

Discovery HR Director, Chris Best said:

“We are delighted to have been awarded Unison’s ‘Care Worker Safety Charter’, in recognition for achieving their Silver Standard during this pandemic.

“This is an accolade for all the hard work and planning that, with the support of our Dimensions Group colleagues, has gone into keeping colleagues and the people we support safe with the provision of adequate PPE, protecting pay and jobs, good access to testing  and safe workplaces. We are extremely proud of all our colleagues who have worked tirelessly during this unprecedented situation”.

Discovery care worker and UNISON steward, Philippa Boulton said:

“With some reports of workers moving in to their workplaces during the pandemic, it’s clear that care home staff across the county are doing everything they can to keep the risk of infection low in order to protect the people they support, colleagues and their own families.

“Care workers need employers to be similarly proactive and committed and show their staff that they have the support and provisions they need to stay safe at what is a scary and dangerous time.

“I’m pleased Discovery is leading the way in this respect and recognises the importance of working closely with staff and UNISON to make sure we get this right”.