Leonard Cheshire says ‘flying homecare visits’ are on the rise
Caring Times, November 2013
Two-thirds of local councils are commissioning 15 minute visits despite major concerns they deprive disabled people of essential care, according to a new report by leading charity Leonard Cheshire Disability.
Over the past five years the proportion of visits of 15 minutes or less has risen by 15%. And in extreme cases, some local authorities are commissioning three quarters of all their home care visits in 15 minutes or less.
TV personality and founder of the children’s helpline ChildLine and the Silver Line, Esther Rantzen, is backing the charity’s call to end 15 minute care visits. She said: “I believe it is cruel to treat people like products on a conveyor belt. Providing this kind of care is a personal service and should be accompanied by conversation and at least half an hour of the care worker’s time. It must be deeply distressing for the care worker too when they are unable to treat their client with any dignity or respect because they simply haven’t got the time.”
The report ‘Ending 15 Minute Care’ reveals that UK adults take on average at least 40 minutes to carry out essential tasks including getting up, washing, dressing and eating breakfast. However, local councils are increasingly expecting disabled people to complete these tasks in 15 minutes.
In a survey by leading pollsters ComRes of 2025 British adults, more than nine in ten or 96% of the public who expressed an opinion <#_ftn1> backed the charity’s call for the Government to do more to support disabled people to carry out essential everyday tasks like washing, dressing and getting out of bed in the morning. 93% of the public who expressed an opinion <#_ftn2> also agreed that a 15 minute visit was not enough to support a disabled or older person carry out everyday tasks like washing, getting dressed or getting out of bed.
The charity’s report and opinion poll is published to coincide with the Report Stage of the Care Bill in the House of Lords on Wednesday 9 October. Clare Pelham, Chief Executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, called on members of the House of Lords to back 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. We should demand better from our councillors and remind them that disabled people are real people with real feelings and should be treated as they themselves would wish to be treated – with kindness, with care and with respect.
“It is vital that Parliament backs our call to end the indignity of rushed care which thousands of disabled people face every day. The clock is ticking and this crucial Care Bill vote is Peers’ last chance to stop this practice for good.”
The Bishop of Carlisle, James Newcome, has declared his support for the campaign. He said: “We have a duty to care for disabled and elderly people. Any of us could be unlucky enough to need help with the parts of life we take for granted: getting out of bed, getting dressed, washing and eating. It is intolerable to think that people are expected to rush through these tasks in as little as 15 minutes. I hope that the Government can act and reverse this worrying trend of shorter and shorter care visits.”
The Royal College of Nursing has also backed the campaign. Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, 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.”
An 84 year old woman who receives a 15 minute visit in the afternoon who could only speak out anonymously because her previous care provider and commissioning council have warned her not to talk publicly says:
“My carers are on 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).”
A charity support care worker who regularly carries out the short calls wrote about their experiences in a confidential survey. “15 minute “flying visits” generally confuse and upset people with mental and physical problems. There is no time to reassure them and ensure they know we are only there to help and assist and that their concerns and problems will be dealt with sympathetically and quickly”