EXPATS have come out fighting for their ‘right’ to fly back to the UK for two-week intensive shifts looking after the elderly.
It comes after the UK media revealed that Brits are funding their lives in the sun by taking fortnightly placements – earning up to €2,000 a time – taking sole care of the vulnerable.
The ‘carers’, who are also said to get free travel and accommodation, are reportedly only required to undergo a few days training beforehand.
But expats in Spain speaking to the Olive Press insist that the claims are wildly exaggerated.
“I am very upset to be labelled as an ‘unqualified’ money-chaser after spending Christmas and New Year away from my family,” one Malaga-based British carer, 44, told the Olive Press.
“I was working 10 hours a day and could only leave the house of the couple I was caring for for two hours each day,” said the carer, who cannot be named for legal reasons.
“In reality I was working 22 hours a day, it’s unfair that I have been made to seem like anyone off the street looking for extra money. And I have plenty of experience from before,” added the mother-of-three, who has lived on the Costa del Sol for 12 years.
The so-called scandal came about as experts cited the issue of recruiting in Spain as evidence of a ‘massive crisis’ in the UK care sector.
A couple of agencies confirmed to the Daily Telegraph they had seen a ‘huge increase’ in the number of expats taking the work, many allegedly claiming they were only attracted by the money.
Age UK director Caroline Abrahams insisted it was ‘yet another symptom of a crisis in social care’ after many of the recruits were found to not have full professional qualifications or relevant previous experience.
However, British job agencies have been recruiting in Spain for years and most of the employees are either qualified or do have relevant work experience.
“I got properly trained and have three years of previous experience working in care homes in the UK, as did most of the girls I worked with,” continued the Malaga carer.
“On top of that the training course I took was a refresher of what I’d already done in.
“I also had to go through police and background checks.
“Sure there may be some who will just go for the money but that will be a tiny minority, the work is so challenging, so don’t tar the good-working expats with the same brush.”
In addition, claims that the agencies are putting pensioners ‘at risk’ receiving care from virtual strangers, seem unfair.
The report added that Brits have been driven to the work by a crippling downturn in the Spanish economy and to supplement business interests such as bars and restaurants.
“I really don’t see what the problem is,” said Bertha Jones, a retired British nurse on the Costa del Sol.
“People are only trying to earn money. I used to go to work for two weeks at a time in the UK for an agency as a live-in carer.”
Michelle Baker, another expat who spent years working as a carer, said live-in carers are far from unqualified and are ‘definitely not in it for the money’.
“Not only do we attend training and go through a rigorous CRB check, we are also expected to do ongoing training, so that we are fully aware of present and up to date policies and procedures,” she said.
“It is one of the most rewarding professions I have ever had the pleasure to be part of.”
Helping Hands, one of the largest agencies approaching expats in Spain, told the Olive Press:
“Helping Hands has had a dedicated training centre in Torrevieja for the last two years as an extension to our Centre of Excellence in Warwickshire..
“As a regulated provider Helping Hands takes compliance with The Care Quality Commission and The Care Certificate very seriously indeed.
“We can assure any of those working with us that the selection and training process not only meets but exceeds the standards as set by The Care Certificate.”