15 minutes: too short a time for quality care

I am delighted to welcome Kayleigh Walters as my first guest blogger. Kayleigh is Livability’s User Involvement Case Coordinator and as a young disabled woman she has a unique perspective on the issues that affect people with disabilities. She has chosen to comment below on recent media reporting that councils require carers to limit their visits to the disabled and elderly people they support in their own homes to 15 minute time slots.

As a charity we make sure that our carers spend as much time as needed caring for the vulnerable people we support. This is becoming increasingly difficult though, as many local authorities insist on the 15 minute timeframe for care to be given. We are also have to bear the increased in cost resulting from having to provide ever more monitoring and recording “paperwork”. Has anyone really tested the real value of that increased form-filling?

15 minutes: too short a time for quality care

by Kayleigh Walters

Kayleigh laptopYesterday, the 7th October, I heard on the news that the charity Leonard Cheshire Disability found that 60% of councils use 15 minute care time slots for elderly and disabled people.

Not only is this ridiculous, it is unfair; it takes some disabled and elderly people 30 minutes just to go to the toilet (it takes an able bodied person 40 minutes to get up and have breakfast in the morning), so 15 minutes or less is just too short a time to ensure that vulnerable people are receiving good quality care. It’s as if the person has to make a decision during that short length of time: “do I have a meal or do I go to the toilet?” This can’t be right by anyone’s standards.

It seems to me that time is the one recurring thing that carers and agencies seem to complain about, and statements like “we haven’t got time to do that” appear to be the norm nowadays.

As a disabled person, whenever I hear stories like this, it makes me realise and appreciate how lucky I am to have a great family around me who are always there when I need them. Others don’t have that luxury and it is vital that they have the right amount of care; otherwise they could be at risk.

Everyone has different needs and requires different levels of care; however, it seems to me that all these councils care about is making sure that all the paperwork is done and money has been paid. Well it’s time that this country got its priorities right! Paperwork is all well and good but at the end of the day that’s not ensuring that the clients/service users are clean, fed and warm.

The employees providing the care are not at fault because mostly they are the ones doing their best and working hard. The BBC has a good example of this from a lady who worked as a care worker for two years before leaving because her employer would not let her do more than the “bare minimum” as she describes it for clients. You can read her story here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24424785

I find it very difficult to understand how the government have been letting councils, care agencies and such get away with this. What’s the point of setting up schemes like “Fulfilling Potential” (said to help bring down the barriers that disabled people are facing), if those who are vulnerable are being denied their right to proper care?

And it’s not just about those who are vulnerable now. I’m sure we all like to think that we will be looked after in our old age (whether you are disabled or not). If 15 minute care slots have risen in the last five years, then what’s going to happen in the next 10 or 20 years? We are forever being told that the population is getting older; well it’s time these people are looked after and treated with dignity and respect.

Reports in the media have suggested that social care leaders believe 15 minute visits are fully justified and it is wrong to believe that tasks take longer to complete; well I’m sorry but they are not the ones sitting in the chair, lying in the bed or doing the caring. This is where I believe (and this is just my own opinion) that no one really fully understands what is involved in caring for a disabled or elderly person unless you have been in the situation.

As a course of action, Leonard Cheshire Disability have now started a campaign to end 15 minute care visits, and according to their website a debate is to be held in the House of Lords on Wednesday 9th October, which according to the Daily Mail the charity hopes the care bill will be amended to allow for care visits to be lengthened to 30 minutes.

Let’s hope they are successful.

If you would like to read Leonard Cheshire’s report on this subject and look at some of the key findings you can download it here: http://www.lcdisability.org/?lid=29351