Almost 20,000 people are still receiving ‘flying’ 15-minute personal care visits across Britain, disabilities charity reveals.
Freedom of Information responses from councils in England, Scotland and Wales have revealed 18,875 people are receiving personal care visits of 15 minutes or less for support with intimate care.
Leonard Cheshire, the disabilities charity behind the research, estimated the figure is higher as many local authorities would not supply data.
In total, the charity found at least 50,677 people across England, Scotland and Wales received 15-minute care visits in 2016/17, although these did include the dropping off of medicine or simple welfare visits.
Statutory guidance within the Care Act 2014, which came into force in April 2015, advise against such flying visits.
‘Short home-care visits of 15 minutes or less are not appropriate for people who need support with intimate care needs,’ it reads.
A new law in Wales banning the use of these visits will come into force in April.
In England, 12,416 people are still receiving 15-minute social care from one in seven — or 15% — of local councils, according to Leonard Cheshire’s findings.
In Scotland, 5,182 people still receive 15-minute social care from nearly one in three — or 31% — of local councils. In Wales 27% of councils still carry out flying care visits.
‘Inadequate flying visits are indicative of a care system in crisis and coupled with PIP [Personal Independence Payment] shortcomings have rendered disabled people an increasingly embattled, beleaguered community, singled out for punitive measures,’ said Leonard Cheshire’s chief executive Neil Heslop.
‘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.’
Commenting on the research, UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea said: ‘Rushed visits cause much distress to elderly and disabled people, and unnecessary stress to the care workers trying to look after them.
‘Government imposed cuts have left cash-strapped councils often forced to commission care at bargain basement rates.
‘As a result, employers are cramming care workers’ rotas with so many visits they rarely have time for a chat with the people they’re caring for.
‘For the lonely – whose only contact with the outside world might be their care worker – hurried, excessively short visits can be devastating.’
The National Audit Office (NAO) also today warned the number of people working in care is not meeting the country’s growing care demands.
For more on how people living with disabilities have been impacted by austerity see our feature, ‘Disabilities in a time of austerity.’