The Government has pledged to clamp down on rushed care visits and investigate the impact of zero hours contracts in the sector, care minister Norman lamb has said.
Speaking at the National Children and Adult Services conference, Mr Lamb pledged to find out how staff working conditions might be impacting on the quality of care being delivered.
His comments follow warnings that two-thirds of councils are commissioning 15-minute care visits for disabled residents despite concerns about their appropriateness.
Today, Mr lamb confirmed that the Care Quality Commission will look at whether home care visits are long enough to deliver quality of care from next April.
He said: ‘Fifteen minutes is not enough time to help people who are older or who have a disability to do everyday things like wash, dress and get out of bed. Some do not even get the chance to have a conversation with their home care worker, who may be the only person they see that day.
‘These tougher checks would ask specific questions about the amount of time allocated for visits and whether staff are suitably supported to do this.’
However, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned that funding cuts have left services unsustainable and unless more money is allocated, standards will not be substantially improved.
Katie Hall, chair of the LGA’s Community Wellbeing Board, said: ‘Until something is done to put council finance on a sustainable footing social care will remain significantly underfunded and services will suffer as a result. The bottom line is that the standard of care will not be substantially lifted until more money is put into the system.
'Councils have worked very hard to protect social care services from the full impact of cuts to their funding because they know that helping the old and vulnerable to maintain their independence and dignity is one of the most important things they do. But councils need an extra £400m each year just to maintain services at current levels. Instead of that they are seeing a 42% cut in funding from central government.’
Mr lamb also used his speech to highlight a lack of corporate accountability, particularly in light of the Winterbourne scandal. He expressed concern that no board members were sanctioned over the abuse at the care home, and said the Government was introducing powers to prosecute when standards of care are low.