END 15-minute care visits, the Royal College of Nursing and Unison health unions demanded yesterday, after the scandal of the consequences of such rushed visits to elderly and disabled people was raised by a leading disabled charity.
Some local authorities are now commissioning three quarters of all home care visits in 15 minutes or less.
This despite major concerns that 15 minute visits deprive disabled people of essential care, the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity reported yesterday, while Unison Scotland is calling for 15-minute visits to be banned.
The Leonard Cheshire report ‘Ending 15-Minute Care’ is published to coincide with the Report Stage of the Care Bill in the House of Lords tomorrow.
Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, called for backing of an amendment to make care visits at least thirty minutes long.
She said: ‘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 long.
‘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.’
Peter Carter, Chief Executive Royal College of Nursing, 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.’
Unison Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby warned: ‘Austerity cuts are piling pressure onto an overstretched system but it is entirely wrong that in a supposedly civilised society councils are commissioning 15 minute home care appointments.
‘Any member of the public can understand that 15 minutes is not enough to provide even the most basic care, let alone to very frail clients.’
The Leonard Cheshire report quotes an 84-year-old woman who receives a 15-minute visit in the afternoon.
She said: ‘My carers are on their 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. 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? The visits are company. I get really lonely and I rely on the visits of my carers, but I know they are never stopping long.
‘How can the government cut anymore? We are supposed to be a civilised country. Getting enough support is such a worry for me. I am stuck in a room all the time and I can’t depend on them (the government).’