Latest Public Sector News

07.10.13

Councils attacked over 15-minute care visits

The rising trend for care organisations to provide only ‘flying’ 15-minute home visits has been condemned by a leading charity. 

Leonard Cheshire Disability has released a poll showing that 93% of people agreed with it that 15 minutes is not enough time to support disabled and elderly people with washing, dressing and bathing. But there has been a 15% rise in the proportion of care visits lasting 15 minutes or less in the last five years, according to its new report, ‘Ending 15 minute care’. 

ADASS, the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services, said a complete ban on shorter visits would be wrong, because they can be appropriate for things like helping with medication and when simply checking someone is doing okay. 

Leonard Cheshire Disability said: “Disabled people receiving care in 15 minutes may be left having to make a terrible choice between having a drink or going to the toilet.” 

FoI requests made by the charity showed that 60% of councils use 15-minute visits, and in some areas more than three-quarters of care visits are 15 minutes. The charity announced earlier this year that it will no longer bid for contracts involving such short visits. 

The new report and opinion poll coincides with the Report Stage of the Care Bill in the House of Lords on Wednesday 9 October. 

Clare Pelham, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, wants members of the House of Lords to back an amendment to make care visits at least 30 minutes long. She said: “Most of us need 40 minutes to get up, get washed and dressed and have breakfast in the morning. None of us would want our family and friends to receive ‘care’ visits as short as 15 minutes. We should demand better from our councillors and remind them that disabled people are real people with real feelings and should be treated as they themselves would wish to be treated – with kindness, with care and with respect. 

“It is vital that Parliament backs our call to end the indignity of rushed care which thousands of disabled people face every day.” 

The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, called the practice “intolerable” and the Royal College of Nursing has also backed the campaign. Its chief executive and general secretary, Dr Peter Carter, said: “People with a disability should not have to make choices between one essential care function or another because visits are being scheduled for so little time. Anyone who needs support getting up, washing, dressing and eating should receive these basic rights with adequate time and dignity.” 

Care minister Norman Lamb MP said: “It’s unrealistic to think 15 minutes is enough time to help people who are older or who have a disability to do everyday things like wash, dress and get out of bed. We are proposing an amendment to the Care Bill which would make it clear that local authorities would have to consider a person’s wellbeing when arranging their care.” 

Katie Hall, chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board: “Unless local government finance is put on a sustainable footing, social care will remain substantially underfunded.” 

Leonard Cheshire Disability released quotes from an 84-year-old woman who get a 15-minute visit in the afternoon, but who could only speak out anonymously because her previous care provider and commissioning council have warned her not to talk publicly, 

She said: “My carers are on pins all the time. They do try their best and they are lovely girls, but what can you do in 15 minutes? You can tell they are looking at the clock all the time, but it’s not their fault. Sometimes they stay with me more than 15 minutes but I know they get into trouble if they do.” 

“We are supposed to be a civilised country. Getting enough support is such a worry for me.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

Mark Jones   07/10/2013 at 23:16

Some tasks take 15 mins, others 30 and others 60. The fact that some tasks require a 30 or a 60 minute visit is no argument for not permitting by law any visit to be shorter. It is obvious common sense for a task requiring 60 minutes to have a 60 minute visit and not a 15 minute one, but it makes no sense to dictate by law that a 15 minute task must have a 30 minute visit. Although it is clearly true that 15 minutes is not enough to help someone to get up, washed and dressed, it is ridiculous to claim that it follows that nothing at all can be done in 15 minutes and that all visits must take at least 30 minutes. Especially at a time when spending on social care is so drastically reduced. This will lead to still further cuts in services.

Paul Bryant   08/10/2013 at 08:34

Yes, 15 minutes is short. If the time is extended where is the money to come from? Government has stopped councils increasing the Council Tax and has reduced the grant so difficult choices have to made. Do we reduce mending the roads and close libraries to fund longer care visits?

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