Sleep-ins have been controversial for some time. Sleep-ins are when staff stay over during the night in case someone needs support. Staff are allowed to go to bed during the night – they only get up if they are needed.
Sleep-in staff usually sleep-in at residential homes, group homes, and hostels. They are also employed to support people with personal budgets. For many years, it was thought that because the staff were sleeping, it was okay to pay them below the minimum wage. There has been a big argument about this, and it has been decided in law that because staff are not free to come and go as they please, and there are restrictions on what they can do, they are working and should be paid the minimum wage.
This minimum wage needs to be back-paid for up to 6 years.
The charities and other providers who have been paying below the living wage have to fork out for this.
So, what the hell are we doing? We have providers and the Government fighting each other, recriminations flying, and a paper-based civil war raging whilst people with learning disabilities and/or autism are stuck in the cross-fire. Those who have least, are likely to lose most, and people with learning disabilities and autism may see their worlds shrink as day-time support gives way to nightly costs.
I have no answer to this problem, but I urgently call on those who have the power to resolve this situation to act quickly and decisively so that the sector is stabilised.
We are very concerned that the voice of people with learning disabilities and autism will be lost in providers’ struggle for survival.
Many families are at breaking point, and whilst the benefits of personal budgets are many, the pressures of being an employer are considerable. The uncertainty over sleep-ins and personal budgets are a source of considerable stress and place an unfair burden on people who simply want the best for their loved one.
How do we sort out this mess? LDE would like to ask each of their individual members to write a letter to their MP and say why sleep-ins are important. No one should have to sacrifice support that enables good days, to remain safe at night.
We need to make MPs understand that quality support makes the difference between living and existing. We all only have one life, and mere existence is not sufficient for anyone!