MORE care workers are being told to spend just 15 minutes on home visits to highly dependent people, a Freedom of Information (FoI) response revealed yesterday.
In one case, a council carer was told to take no more than 15 minutes to wake and shower a man in his 90s, dry him, dress him, make his breakfast and give him his medication.
The carer said: “I have told my organiser that this takes at least around 30 to 45 minutes. Her reply was that other workers can do it in this time.”
Public service union Unison submitted the FoI request and 98 per cent of councils responded.
The number of local authorities implementing 15-minute visits because of Con-Dem cuts has risen from 69 per cent last year to 74 per cent — that is 110 councils.
On average 15-minute visits make up one in seven of all the homecare visits commissioned by these councils.
Care Minister Norman Lamb made a clear statement last year that 15 minutes is not enough time for a homecare visit and that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) would look into the issue. But the CQC’s newly introduced inspection makes no specific reference to curbing the use of 15-minute care visits. It can inspect and challenge care providers but has no powers to challenge councils when they commission care through 15-minute visits.
Unison general secretary Dave Prentis highlighted how the government is cutting council budgets by 40 per cent while the need for care continues to rise, forcing councils to spread care budgets ever thinner.
“This symbolises all that is wrong with our increasingly undignified and underfunded care system,” he 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.
“The government’s decision to sit on its hands flies in the face of its earlier commitment to stamp out the practice of rushed homecare visits.
“For some people, the time they spend with a home care worker is the only human interaction they may have on that day.”