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Warning of ‘care system in crisis’ as thousands get just 15-minute visits

Almost 20,000 people received personal care visits of 15 minutes or less for support with intimate care in 2016/17, according to a charity.

Almost 20,000 people received “flying” visits of only 15 minutes for personal social care last year, according to a charity’s research.

Disability charity Leonard Cheshire said the figures were indicative of “a care system in crisis” and warned the numbers receiving such short visits were likely to be even higher.

At least 18,875 people received personal care visits of 15 minutes or less for support with intimate care in 2016/17, based on data obtained from councils.

Neil Heslop, Leonard Cheshire’s chief executive, said: “As we approach the long-awaited Government green paper on social care, the situation is tough in the sector.

“Inadequate flying visits are indicative of a care system in crisis and, coupled with Personal Independence Payment shortcomings, have rendered disabled people an increasingly embattled, beleaguered community, singled out for punitive measures.

“We will continue to campaign for the critical long-term funding that is needed to transform the provision of care and improve the quality of thousands of lives.”

The charity has campaigned against the use of 15-minute visits to support people with basic needs such as washing, dressing and eating, saying it can deprive people of dignified and compassionate care.

Inadequate flying visits are indicative of a care system in crisis Neil Heslop, chief executive, Leonard Cheshire

Statutory guidance which came into force in 2015 said such short visits “are not appropriate” for people who need support with intimate care needs.

“Rushed visits cause much distress to elderly and disabled people, and unnecessary stress to the care workers trying to look after them,” said Unison assistant general secretary Christina McAnea.

“Some care workers report being allocated just a single minute for a visit.

“This is an obscene way to treat the most vulnerable people in our communities. The Government must get to grips with the growing care scandal now.”

The Leonard Cheshire data, obtained through Freedom of Information requests, showed people were receiving personal care visits of no more than 15 minutes across 15% of councils in England.

In Scotland the figure was 31%, while in Wales the figure was 27%.

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“As a person living with a disability and also maintaining a high-pressured professional job, having sufficient time for my full-time day care calls is essential,” said Raymond Lang, an academic with cerebral palsy.

“They enable me to maintain my dignity and independence, as well as being empowered to make a significant contribution to society.

“There is no doubt that the social care sector in the UK is in crisis, and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”

The research showed at least 50,677 people across England, Scotland and Wales received 15-minute care visits in 2016/17, which includes figures for other types of visits such as dropping off medicine or simple welfare visits.

James Taylor, head of policy and public affairs at disability charity Scope, said around a third of all people who receive social care are disabled, and they account for half the budget.

“These figures put the paltry social care funding settlement in to sharp focus,” he said.

“Social care provides the critical support that many disabled people need to live. Without it they can become isolated and end up in A&E.

“We urgently need a care system that is fully funded and works for disabled people.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: “It is unacceptable for home visits to be rushed, as every person with a disability deserves compassionate and high-quality care.

“To drive up standards in social care we have introduced tougher inspections of care services, provided an additional £2 billion, and have committed to consult on its future this summer.”

Press Association

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