Councils under fire for commissioning "undignified" 15-minute care visits

Councils are still commissioning 15-minute care visits for essential tasks such as eating and getting dressed, despite official guidance advising against them, according to new research.

Freedom of Information requests to all local authorities responsible for adult social care by Leonard Cheshire Disability found the majority of those still commissioning 15-minute visits (64 out of 105) do not use them for personal care - but 18 still use them for essential tasks such as washing, dressing and eating.

Another 23 councils did not respond to a request for clarification on whether they use the visits for personal care.

Of the 152 councils surveyed, 16 had stopped commissioning 15-minute visits for personal care in the past year. This brings the total to 46 since Leonard Cheshire Disability launched its Make Care Fair campaign to end the practice.

The Care Act's statutory guidance states that "short homecare visits of 15 minutes or less are not appropriate for people who need support with intimate care needs".

Elsewhere, the National Institute for Clinical Excellence has recommended that care visits should last at least 30 minutes to ensure workers "have time to do their job properly without being rushed of compromising the dignity or wellbeing of the person who uses services".

The research also showed that councils are commissioning more homecare - but for fewer people. Between 2013-14 and 2014-15, the number of hours commissioned by three per cent, yet 6,000 fewer people received homecare commissioned by their local authority, a fall of two per cent.

Clare Pelham, the charity's chief executive, said: "We are concerned that many councils are still commissioning flying care visits - often 15 minutes or even less - to deliver essential personal care such as washing, dressing and eating.

"These rushed visits are simply not long enough to provide dignified support to disabled and older people, leaving many facing impossible choices such as using the toilet or having a cup of tea.

"We urge councils to follow Government guidance which clearly says that 15 minutes is never enough for personal care.

"After more than three years campaigning on this issue, we know there is still a long way to go before everyone receives the kind of care we all expect for those we love."