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Fifteen-minute visits OK, says health chief
10:30am Friday 11th October 2013 in News
CARE visits lasting just 15 minutes have been defended by Worcestershire’s director of public health.
National charity Leonard Cheshire Disability is warning that more and more elderly and vulnerable people are being looked after in “flying” visits of 15 minutes or less – leaving time so tight they are forced to choose between having a cup of tea, or being helped to the toilet.
The organisation’s Ending 15 Minute Care report says 60 per cent of councils now commission 15-minute care visits and that they are putting the frail and elderly at risk by cutting back on the amount of time carers have to help them with basic tasks.
Worcestershire’s director of public health, Richard Harling, admitted that Worcestershire County Council is one of the local authorities that commissions the shorter visits. But he believes that in many circumstances they are effective and were fully justified.
He insisted that it is not the length of time that is important but meeting people’s specific needs, and said there is no pressure to cut more visits down to 15 minutes, or any other specific length of time.
“The debate nationally has been about whether or not 15-minute visits are appropriate,” he said. “Here in Worcestershire, we have relatively fewer 15-minute visits compared to elsewhere and the number is also reduced compared to what it was previously. But it is not necessarily about the length of time, it is about having a visit that meets the needs of that particular person at that particular time.”
He said, for example, that a 15-minute visit would be appropriate purely to give someone their medication. “If you don’t need to spend more than 15 minutes then why would you?” he said.
“We have a fixed amount of resources to meet all those needs and the more we spend on one person in terms of time and money, the less there is to spend on someone else.
“But no one is going around saying that we have to cut the length of a visit down to any specific time.” Leonard Cheshire Disability is calling on the Government to take action to limit the number of 15-minute visits through the new Care Bill, currently going through Parliament.
Chief executive of the charity, Claire Pelham, said: “More and more of our councils are now buying flying 15-minute visits. “Yet it is clear that 15 minutes simply does not allow enough time to deliver good quality care.
“If those of us who don’t have a disability take 40 minutes to get up, get dressed, eat and go the toilet, how can we justify 15-minute visits for others?”