‘Just 15 Minutes Of Care!’

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Health workers depicting Prime Minister Cameron and Health Secretary Hunt as Scrooges over the government’s refusal to pay the 1% pay rise to all NHS workers
Health workers depicting Prime Minister Cameron and Health Secretary Hunt as Scrooges over the government’s refusal to pay the 1% pay rise to all NHS workers

ELDERLY and vulnerable people are receiving just 15 minutes of care during homecare visits because of savage 40% council budget cuts, Unison warned yesterday.

Unison warned that this ‘scandalous’ situation is getting worse, putting unfair pressures on homecare workers resulting in dangerously low levels of care.

Essential tasks like administering medication, preparing food and helping the elderly and vulnerable go to the toilet and shower can not be completed in 15 minutes leaving them in an increasingly undignified state.

Unison said: ‘The number of councils in England commissioning 15 minute home care visits has risen in the past year, despite a commitment from the government to clamp down on rushed visits.

‘A Freedom of Information request, which 98% of councils in the country responded to, revealed that 74% of local authorities still commission 15 minute visits. This compares to 69% in the same survey last year.’

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: ‘It is a scandal that 15 minute visits are on the rise despite assurances from the government that it would crack down on rushed visits.

‘What we are seeing is the institutionalisation of dangerously low levels of care which which compromises the dignity of the elderly and vulnerable people in our community who rely on this care, and places unfair pressures on homecare workers.

‘The government is cutting council budgets by 40% while the need for care continues to rise.

‘This forces councils to spread the care budget thinner and thinner trying to make it go round. This symbolises all that is wrong with our increasingly undignified and underfunded care system.

‘When the government passed the 2014 Care Act it made the conscious decision not to give the CQC any powers to regulate or challenge local authority commissioning practices.

‘This is despite calls from unions, providers and service user groups that it should do so, and concerns from CQC itself about the inadequacy of leaving councils to regulate themselves.

‘The government has indicated that it will include guidance on 15 minute visits in the Care Act, but this guidance will not form part of statutory regulations.

‘This means that it will not be strong enough to reverse the widespread practice of 15 minute visits which is driven by spending cuts.’

Prentis went on to say: ‘For some people, the time they spend with a home care worker is the only human interaction they may have on that day.’

One home care worker at a council that commissions 15 minute visits said: ‘On my run there are a number of fifteen minute visits. And on the run I have just been given, one visit is to a man in his mid-nineties who is very frail and slow to move, especially in the morning.

‘I have been given fifteen minutes to go into his house wake him up assist him to the bathroom, give him a shower, help him get him dry and dressed and then make his breakfast and prompt and make sure he takes his medication.

‘I have told my organiser that this takes at least around thirty to forty-five minutes. Her reply was that other workers can do it in 15 minutes.’