A report has shown that six in ten local authorities have now commissioned 15 minute visits of care time for frail, elderly and disabled people.
Despite concerns of how short care visits can deprive people with disabilities of essential care two-thirds of local councils are commissioning 15-minute visits.
Leonard Cheshire, the largest voluntary sector provider of disabled care, created a survey which is the largest and most detailed of its kind by using freedom of information requests, receiving responses from 120 of the 152 county councils that pay for social care in England.
The survey found that in the past five years the proportion of visits lasting a quarter of an hour or shorter had risen by 15%. Six in ten local authorities have now commissioned these reduced amounts of “care time” for frail, elderly and disabled people, reports the Guardian.
Leonard Cheshire have said that they want to stop the trend that sees councils making cuts in frontline services so that reduced budgets can be balanced. The charity have warned that the time allowed was too short to meet the needs of vulnerable people and is forcing some clients to choose between “staying thirsty or going to the toiled”. They have also announced that they will not be bidding for any contracts that include 15-minute calls.
The report says that adults take on average at least 40 minutes to carry out essential tasks including getting up, washing, dressing and eating their breakfast. However, local councils are now expecting disabled people to complete these tasks in 15 minutes.
An 84-year-old woman, speaking confidentially in the report as she was warned by the council not to speak publically 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? I end up choosing – have I got time to check if they can fill the hot water bottle? Shall I choose between getting my meal prepared or them emptying my commode? Do I get a drink or do I go to the toilet?”
In a ComRes poll of 2,024 adults the charity found that 93% of the public said that 15 minutes was not “enough [time] to support a disabled or older person carry out everyday tasks like washing, getting dressed or getting out of bed”.
Clare Pelham, chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, called on the Lords to back an amendment to make care visits last at least 30 minutes. “Every day, many disabled and older people in the UK receive personal care. It is disgraceful to force disabled people to choose whether to go thirsty or to go to the toilet by providing care visits as short as 15 minutes.”
The association of directors of adult social services have argues that in some cases 15-minute visits at a home were “fully justified and fully adequate”.
Sandie Keene, president of the association, said it was wrong to believe that all tasks needed more than 15 minutes to carry out. “And frankly naïve to believe that simply by abolishing 15-minute slots a magic wand will have been waved, and improvements automatically achieved in our care services. It doesn’t work like that.” Norman Lamb, the care and support minister, said: “It’s unrealistic to think that 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. It’s not fair on those who need support and it’s not fair on care workers.”
He said there would be an “amendment to the care bill [ensuring] local authorities would have to consider a person’s wellbeing when arranging their care”.