Oct 03, 2019

Should Home Care Cleaners Move Furniture So They Can Clean Properly?

How much cleaning are home care cleaners supposed to do?

“Why won’t my home care cleaner move furniture so they can clean properly” is a common complaint we hear often at HelloCare. Many home care customers say they’re not happy with the cleaning services they are receiving through their home care package.

But where does the fault lie? 

Are the cleaners simply not doing their job properly? Or are the care recipients’ expectations too high? Are there good reasons that cleaners aren’t moving furniture at each visit when they clean?

Here at HelloCare, we set out to get to the bottom of this grubby situation.

Cleaners are not moving furniture when they clean

Our readers helped us understand the extent of the problem. In an online survey, we asked them, “Does your home care service provider refuse to clean underneath furniture or in hard-to-reach places?” 

We had over 300 responses, and almost 150 readers commented on the poll.

A total of 218 voted ‘yes’, and 85 said ‘no’.

So it seems our sources were correct: most home care cleaners aren’t moving furniture when they clean.

Readers’ opinions on this finding were mixed. 

Some carers themselves said they do move furniture, while others said they don’t, and many gave their reasons for not doing so. 

“Client directed care, we do as clients request. I’ve told my clients that I can do just about anything except go up on the roof,” one wrote.

“We are only there to maintain the client’s main living areas and nothing else. Families and clients need to understand this,” one reader wrote.

Care recipients also gave mixed reports, some saying they would like their cleaners to do more, while others said they understand why their cleaners only perform the services they do.

“My care provider does everything, but I don’t expect her to shift heavy items or crawl under things, and she is always willing to do other things that may not be on the plan as long as she has time. I’m very lucky to have the carers I have whether it is for personal care or domestic,” one care recipient said.

“I don’t think anyone would be expected to shift heavy furniture, a bit of common sense goes a long way,” another care recipient wrote.

Moving heavy furniture a “health and safety risk”

We spoke to Feros Care, one of Australia’s largest home care providers, to look at the issue from a provider’s perspective.

Rebecca Wilkinson, Chief Operations Officer, Community Services, Feros Care, told HelloCare that customers can direct as much of their home care packages to cleaning as they wish. 

“Feros Care develop a plan with clients so that the focus is on services that keep them well, independent, safe, and keep them connected with the community,” she said.

The focus of cleaning is on providing “essential cleaning of the house in areas regularly used by the client”. These areas include bathrooms, toilets, kitchens, laundries, living areas and bedrooms. 

Workers perform tasks such as cleaning stoves, bench tops and fridges, as well as mopping or vacuuming floors, dusting, dishwashing, changing bed linen, washing, drying and doing essential ironing, Ms Wilkinsons said.

Feros Care does not expect cleaners to move heavy furniture to clean underneath it “as it may be a potential health and safety risk”, Ms Hynes said.

“Staff are not intended to move heavy furniture or turn mattresses or change light bulbs or clean areas that cannot be reached safely,” she said.

Communication is key

Providers may need to spell out to their customers the level of cleaning they should expect in order to avoid disappointment. 

Cleaning is a strenuous, physical job often performed for minimal reward. Highlighting the health and safety risks to cleaners if they move heavy furniture may help customers understand why restrictions are enforced. 

If customers aren’t happy with the cleaning they are receiving, they can raise the matter with their provider, or even switch to a different service. 

But it may be difficult for home care recipients to find a provider that will encourage its cleaners to move heavy furniture for cleaning because the risks to staff are just too great.

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  1. I’m receiving cleaning home care package for 1 and half hours per fortnight. I know how long it takes to clean my house including moving furniture in the bed rooms etc and it is 3 to 3 and half hours. This week the bathroom was not cleaned properly. If I had the energy /ability to do it I would. I paid a professional cleaner for 2 and half hours and she worked like a Trojan and never stopped but she never left anything undone unless she checked with me if I could afford any more. Sorry I had to let her go as I could not afford the $. I don’t know what the answer is If I could do it myself maybe I would not be so disappointed

  2. If the care recipient was in good health, that person would do all of those things himself/herself, and clean under the furniture, turn the bed mattress around and all other things necessary to maintain a clean home. Just surface cleaning does not a clean house make. So, my suggestion would be to engage two cleaners to do a big clean up and then have it maintained by one cleaner until the next pay for and be happy with that?

    Service providers should be able to provide a variety of workers who are willing and able to do certain jobs otherwise the service provider should not state that it provides a cleaning service. The care recipient should be able to go to professional commercial cleaners if they wanted to and have it paid out of the budget allowance and not be forced to use those provided by the service provider. A Consumer Directed Model of care should mean precisely that.

  3. Could Hello Care please put in an edit button somewhere when comments are being written as errors can’t be rectified.

    I intended to say…”So, my suggestion would be to engage two cleaners to do a big cleanup, including moving furniture, and then have it maintained by a cleaner until the next big clean up is due. Why should a care recipient be satisfied with a half cleaned home and pay for a service that does not provide what is requested ?

  4. I was paying $61.00 an hr and my house was the dirtiest it had ever been. Now I get a cleaning company every few months to go right thru the place. It’s the only way to go…men who are strong and capable. The Provider never helped with this. I now Self Manage my Package and I can arrange whatever I need and not be charged high fees for little.

  5. I self manage mums package which means I can directly hire actual cleaners to do a big clean every three months – windows, high areas, fans, move furniture. Two people arrive with ladders and their own equipment and have mums place spotless in two hours (that equals four hours in total). Mums carer then only has to do light cleaning on her visits and she can focus on mum. I don’t pay get to be a cleaner she’s more valuable to me as a carer. So my cleaners are $28 an hour each and my carer is $35 an hour. She doesn’t need to shower mum or do full on personal care they garden and spend time together. When mum lived in our home for six months I had the agency tell me the cleaners they provided could only do 1.5 hours a week and only in the areas mum was in and at $48 an hour. I hired a cleaning team and got a full house clean done properly for the same money and I could add money to that myself if I wanted them to do more time. The hourly rate was $28. Go figure how these agencies are ripping packages and funding off as well as using people trained as carers as cleaners. I also like that my cleaner and Carer warm the actual money I pay them. It made me feel awful to pay agency $48-58 an hour to find out the actual worker was only paid $21-25 an hour. What the hell was I paying the rest of the money for. I’ve almost doubled the services I can get by going self managed.

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