BUPA care homes – big profits, bad pay

BUPA Dean Wood, near Brighton. Lovely building, shame about the pay.

BUPA Dean Wood, near Brighton. Lovely £7 million building, shame about the pay for carers and nurses.

“This home is open to all”, says the message outside Dean Wood nursing home, a BUPA home just outside Brighton. At around £1000 per week, I think that really should be “all – who have quite a lot of money”, shouldn’t it?

Over the last two years, as an agency healthcare assistant (many people think that agency workers are often part of the problem of poor care but I do my best), I’ve worked at several BUPA care homes on a semi-regular basis in Sussex. All things considered, I thought the actual standard of care was pretty good in all of them. Would I be happy for a relative of mine to be in one of them – perhaps the ultimate test of what one really feels about a care home – yes, having seen a lot worse over the years, I probably would. But BUPA is a big organization with around 290 care homes, so it’s no surprise that not everyone has had the same experience or thinks the same, as this thread on Mumsnet shows. A quick browse of the thread shows many common general care home complaints from both employees and family members with relatives in BUPA homes.

The last I heard, regular BUPA carers in Sussex homes were on £6.57 per hour, which I was told at one home is less than the kitchen staff are paid. Qualified nurses are also paid poorly, below average. Not content with this though, the management had put “motivational” messages up on the walls of the staff room to remind everyone of a few things. I may not have the exact wording right but I remember posters along the lines of “BUPA is generating millions of pounds worth of business around the world” next to “BUPA staff are happy in their jobs”. Getting a bit 1984 or Brave New World with that last one aren’t they!? Not only is this massive multimillion international company only paying healthcare assistants close to the minimum wage, during staff tea breaks BUPA is reminding all the badly paid carers and nurses of the massive profits the company makes – talk about “rubbing your face in it”!

Not surprisingly, staff morale tends to be low in BUPA homes (as with quite a few nursing homes of course) and many carers – including very good ones – leave after a few months.

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