Councils Still Using 15-Minute Elderly Home Care Visits

Friday, 29th January 2016

Published: 29 January 2016.

A research report by the public service union, Unison, has found that 15-minute home care visits are still being used by councils to support elderly people in their own homes.

The report – Suffering Alone at Home – is based on a survey of 1,100 home care workers which indicated that 74% of people felt that they had insufficient time to provide dignified care, with three quarters of councils regularly using 15 minutes to care for elderly people at home. Half (49%) of home care staff confirmed that 15 minutes was not long enough to provide a nutritious meal or ascertain if an older person’s health needs may have changed.

These figures are made even more worrying by the fact that home care workers said that more than three-quarters of their elderly clients lived with dementia or mobility issues and more than half had stroke care needs or mental health issues. 42% were living with Parkinson’s disease.

Dave Prentis, Unison General Secretary, said:

“Homecare workers are often the only face some people see all day, and they are a lifeline – only they can call for help and ensure that the housebound people they care for are fed, washed and well. Although the government is going to allow local authorities to raise council tax to fund social care, the crisis is so great that any extra cash will barely touch the sides. It will also be of little help to deprived areas – where the need for home care visits is greater. With the challenge of an ageing population living longer, care planning and adequate funding for social care should be a government priority and it clearly is not. Ministers should stop passing the social care buck to councils, and dig deep to find the cash from Treasury coffers to provide dignified care for the elderly. Rushed 15 minute homecare visits should have no place in a modern, caring society.”

Oliver Stirk, Director at Carefound Home Care, commented:

“At Carefound Home Care all of our hourly home care visits last a minimum of 1 hour and in many cases for longer. We also support a number of clients with 24-hour live-in care. It is wholly inappropriate for elderly home care visits to be provided for 15 minutes or even 30 minutes. This not only ignores the importance of companionship and developing genuine relationships, but ultimately results in increased hospital and residential care admissions – something that is both expensive and rarely a wish of the individual. Carefound Home Care is leading the way in delivering a higher quality care service at home which is focussed on improving the health and welfare outcomes of elderly people and their families, not task-driven care which is what these shorter visits result in. This is a key reason why we are Yorkshire’s only home care provider rated outstanding by the Care Quality Commission (CQC).”