AFTER revelation about endemic low pay in the care sector, East Lancashire residents have spoken out on how much carers' work means to them.

According to last week's investigation, hundreds of local care workers are paid less than the real living wage, while reports earlier this week showed that a total of thousands of pounds worth of underpaid "sleep rates" is owed to carers across Lancashire, with many working 24 hour double shifts.

However, despite the conditions and pay, for those on the receiving end their work is invaluable.

Yvette Jackson, from Rossendale whose late father was cared for by such workers, said: "The carers are not only a lifeline for basic daily needs but have also been invaluable throughout the pandemic when our family have had to reduce our visits to keep my dad safe.

"The carers from complete care services and district nurses got there in all weather and my dad lived on a steep hill so when it snowed was very difficult to reach.

"At the beginning of the pandemic carers seemed to be last in line to get the basic PPE to be able to protect themselves and their clients but this didn't stop them from doing their job.

"When my Dad's health rapidly deteriorated before he passed the carers and nurses were fantastic in adjusting to the level of care to enable my Dad to stay at home as long as was possible.

"I was present for some of the visits and my Dad was always dealt with care, compassion and dignity as if he was their own relative."

She added: "I feel that community and social care is often overlooked and people who have no experience of accessing the services aren't aware of the fantastic care that is going on in all of our communities."

The revelations about care workers pay in Lancashire comes amid further findings, gathered by Community Integrated Care's Unfair to Care report, that show social care contributes £46 billion to the national economy annually and creates 1.65 million jobs around the country.

However, the same report shows that the care sector loses 34 per cent of its workforce every year due to low pay.

Ms Jackson said: "I couldn't have asked for better care for my dad and some peace of mind for the family knowing the quality of care he was getting was excellent.

"There is no doubt in my mind that we would not have managed without this fantastic service before and especially during the pandemic."

In order make sure carers' work is valued, Blackburn with Darwen Trades Union Council has previously called for local councils to sign up to an ethical care charter that would guarantee the real living wage.

President Vikki Dugdale said: "It would give them some certainty around their hours, some certainty that their employer won't be able to cut their pay and that they're entitled to sick pay."

National organisations also believe that this would go a long way towards addressing the crisis.

Skills for Care CEO Oonagh Smyth said: "We believe that policies to reform adult social care will not be successful unless they address the needs of the workforce, through a social care people plan and comprehensive workforce planning, underpinned by data and an understanding of our workforce now and in the future."