Prime Minister António Costa is taking heat for suggesting nursing homes, day care centres and other social care establishments should start recruiting unemployed tourism workers.
“Many of the thousands of people who have lost their jobs in the tourism sector already have experience providing personal care and, with adequate training, could easily continue working with people,” the PM told reporters yesterday during the presentation of the new phase of the PARES (social care) programme at the Ministry of Employment and Social Solidarity.
However, the idea was quickly lambasted from many sides.
“The statement made by the Prime Minister is a complete joke,” said Francisco Ferreira from the Union of Hotel and Tourism Workers (STHT).
“We do not have any training or ability to look after the elderly,” he told Rádio Renascença.
The union leader said that only someone who is “unaware” of the hardships involved in working in social care could come up with such an idea.
“These workers have to have great vocation for the jobs they do every day,” he added.
João Ferreira de Almeida, from the Association of Home Care for Nursing Homes, went even further.
“Changing diapers, positioning sick patients in bed, being responsible for their hygiene… it is not easy,” he told RR.
“People are not aware of the work we do at nursing homes. It’s hard and sometimes even ‘violent’,” Ferreira added.
The president of the association said that “specific training” would be needed if ‘tourism workers’ were to be moved to this sector.
Their background would also have to be taken into account, saying that a former waiter or a former housekeeper would require different training.