Adult care funding 'in crisis'
The rise in short home visits to elderly people by care workers is a damning indictment of the underfunded social care and health system, the chairman of the Local Government Association has said.
David Sparks was speaking in reference to new draft guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) released today on support for older people living in their own homes.
The recommendations state that visits shorter than half an hour should be made only if the home care worker is known to the person, if the visit is part of a wider package of support, and if it allows enough time to complete specific, time-limited tasks or to check if someone is safe and well.
Mr Sparks said: "Sadly the rise in short visits is symptomatic of a social care and health system that continues to be chronically underfunded. Adult social care funding is in crisis and it is vital for our elderly population that government urgently addresses this.
"Councils are doing all they can to maintain the services that older people rely on, but if social care continues to be inadequately funded, this will tip some services into failure and leave the most vulnerable members of communities at risk of losing essential care that helps them to live independently."
The draft guidelines are the first of their kind to be developed by Nice for the home care sector and recommend that care should focus on the needs of the individual.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director for health and social care at Nice, said: "We live in an increasingly ageing population. As more of us live longer, effective and high quality home care services will become more important than ever.
"We recommend that services should support the aspirations, goals and priorities of each person. There should not be a 'one size fits all' approach."
Healthwatch England chairwoman Anna Bradley said: "The quality of home care services vary massively across the country, and care users are uncertain about the level of care they are entitled to and do not know how to complain when standards slip.
"National guidance from Nice could set a benchmark to help establish what we can all expect and provide local Healthwatch with a tool to challenge and advise providers and commissioners to deliver the compassionate and individualised care we all need."
A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We know there are too many examples of rushed care visits and it's completely inappropriate to allow less than half an hour to help people eat, get dressed or get out of bed.
"We've given an extra £1.1 billion to councils to help protect social care services this year but know we need to work differently to deal with our growing ageing population. Our £5.3 billion Better Care Fund to join up health and social care will help people live independently for longer, which will save around half a billion pounds and prevent people from needing more support."