Fifteen-minute care visits are not good enough

Almost three quarters of local authorities are still commissioning care visits to the elderly lasting only 15 minutes, figures show.


Many councils buy in care from outside firms in blocks of a quarter of an hour, leaving carers trying to complete a range of tasks with each pensioner in a short space of time.

These tasks can include dressing, washing, and heating up meals, as well as cleaning up incontinent pensioners and administering medicines.

Charities have warned that such short visits mean the carer does not have enough time to do all this.

The figures, obtained through Freedom of Information requests for a survey by Unison, showed that 73% of town halls are still commissioning 15-minute visits, despite concerns having been raised previously.

The public sector union blamed cuts to local authorities’ budgets by the Coalition Government.

Heather Wakefield of Unison said: “Fifteen-minute visits exemplify the inadequacy of the current ‘care on the cheap’ system.

“Imagine trying to provide personal care to an incontinent 94-year old with dementia, clearing up any mess they have made, feeding them and giving them medicines, all in just 15 minutes.

“There is no time left to have a conversation, let alone provide some compassionate care before rushing out.

“No wonder home carers tell us they are depressed about the standard of care they are forced to provide.

“The Government has acknowledged the damage that 15-minute care visits can do but it has failed to stop their use. In fact, drastic cuts to council budgets have only made matters worse.”

Norman Lamb, the care minister, also described such short visits as “completely unacceptable” and suggested the care system was at risk of “institutionalising neglect” as a result.

He told the Daily Mail: “I am very concerned about the rush to the bottom, where local authorities commission providers to carry out these short visits.

“The worker rushes in and has no time to engage with the individual and look after them properly. All they can do is the essential tasks and then rush out. This approach is unacceptable.”

One Response to Fifteen-minute care visits are not good enough

  1. Karen Burns says:

    We have faced this problem on many occasions at the Bond Hotel. ALongside the hotel we also run our own care agency for guests who need support and our care packages are priced based on a minimum of an hour. We are finding that some areas of the UK are particularly difficult in understanding that we value our guests quality of care and that we do not provide a 15 minute rush.

    People who need care deserve the dignity in being able to talk to those providing the support, from the point where your life changes from being independant to having someone help with the most personal aspects of life why shouldnt they have the dignity of at least being able to talk to 5 minutes before having to undress or have personal care. This seems like a basic to me, perhaps because I know from our experience our guests not only have the practical side of care but also the quality time to even say hello and ask about how someone is.

    I for one would not be promoting our holidays if I knew we had to sell 15 minutes of care and not an hour where we give people the freedom to choose how and when their support begins.

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