The 15-minute short-term care visits to vulnerable disabled and elderly people has catalysed the government to take action.
Figures obtained by Leonard Cheshire, the largest voluntary sector provider of disabled care, found that in the past five years the proportion of visits lasting a quarter of an hour or shorter had risen by 15%. Almost two-thirds of local councils are now commissioning 15-minute visits.
Experts say the reason for such tiny slices of care time is that cuts to council funding have led to a £2.6bn reduction in social care budgets.
This is depriving people vulnerable people of their dignities and the government is to announce a review concerning it.
The minister Norman Lamb will say that from next April the Care Quality Commission will look at whether home care visits are “long enough to respond to people’s needs” and “consider looking at how staff working conditions might be impacting on care”. This will be in response to criticism from charities.
The Guardian also reports that in a speech to the National Children and Adult Services conference, Lamb will say that the regulator will consider not only whether care is “delivered with compassion, dignity and respect”, but also how many staff are employed on zero-hour contracts, considered to be the reason why up to 220,000 care workers get less than the minimum wage.
“The current approach to home care is not fair on those who need support, it’s not fair on care workers and it is stripping away the human element of caring.
“Fifteen minutes is not 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. Some do not even get the chance to have a conversation with their home care worker, who may be the only person they see that day.”
Care workers who visit vulnerable people in their homes are increasingly forced to cram tasks such as bathing, feeding and cleaning into ever tighter schedules.
Liz Kendall, the shadow care services minister, said:
“The scandal of 15-minute home vists must not be accepted. It is leaving vulnerable people to get up, wash, dress and be fed in too short a time. The government must take responsibility for the huge cuts to local council funding that has made this problem.
She said that although Lamb had publicly criticised 15-minute personal care visits, there was nothing in the government’s care bill in the upper house earlier this month to “prevent this practice from continuing and, indeed, from spreading further”. “You really have to have the money to be able to do that.”