INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
MIDLAND HEALTH BOARD
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Provision of additional household / attendant staff at St Peter's Centre, Castlepollard.
2. St. Peters Centre is a residential centre for the intellectually disabled and is managed by the Midland Health Board. The Union sought the introduction of eight additional ward attendants.
Discussions took place locally but agreement was not reached. The matter was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission and agreement was not reached. The matter was referred to the Labour Court on the 7th of June, 2002, under Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 17th of September, 2002, in Athlone, Co. Westmeath.
3. 1. If care assistants are to provide the necessary and required services to their clients then they need and require the back up of household/attendant staff which would be best practice in the provision of client care.
2. It would be unhygienic and bad practice to expect care assistants to look after the personal needs of patients and also be involved in the serving of food and other housekeeping duties.
3. In Lough Sheever catering is looked after by another unit i.e. the C.P.U., but in St. Peter's it is undertaken by C.P.U. staff which are listed as St.Peter's staff, leaving 2 attendants for housekeeping duties.
4. The Midland Health board employ 2 housekeeping/attendants in Our Lady's Unit in St.Peter's and the Union believe this should be extended to the whole centre.
4. 1. When the enhanced rate of pay for care assistants emerged from national level discussions, the Board was generous towards staff in taking a liberal interpretation of the provisions of the agreement and did not seek to exclude staff from benefiting through segregation of direct patient care and non-patient care duties.
2. It is the Board's view that care to clients is best provided through a team approach where segregation and demarcation of duties is at a minimum and that the enhanced rate of pay agreed at national level was in respect of the totality of the care assistants job rather than specific elements.
3. The generic job description, developed by the Board following on from the formal introduction of the care assistant grade, incorporates responsibility for household and cleaning duties as required.
4. The Board is currently embarking on a transfer of service programme, involving the transfer of staff and clients to Community Residences. Currently both nursing staff and care assistants are involved in providing the full range of duties, including cleaning. Indeed the clients/residents are also encouraged to be involved in these duties. To excuse care assistants from undertaking or engaging in non-patient care duties would have serious repercussive effects both on the way in which services are delivered and in terms of cost.
5. Care Assistants who are the subject of this claim appear to have no problem in undertaking household duties and cleaning when assigned to the holiday home in Donabate or to community residences. The Board seeks the same level of co-operation and flexibility in the parent residential settings.
6. The budgetary implications of an additional eight (8) ward attendant staff would be of the order of €183,000 per annum.
7. Since SIPTU served its claim the Board has employed an additional 3.5 ward attendants to undertake non-nursing/domestic duties.
It is clear that prior to the introduction of the revised salary scales and job description for care assistants, there was no demarcation between client care and non-nursing household duties. The Court does not believe that it would be reasonable to expect the Health Board to forego this flexibility in consequence of having effectively upgraded all staff engaged in these combine duties.
The Court does not therefore recommend concession of the Union's claim. The Court does, however, accept that the primary role of those associated with this claim is in respect of client care. The extent to which household duties are assigned to them should not be such as to impair their ability to carry out that primary role.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd October, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Helena McDermott, Court Secretary.