‘Flying’ 15-minute care visits still a bleak reality for thousands of disabled people

9 January 2017

  • over 30,000 people receiving 15-minute homecare visits in England 
  • half of these people live in council areas that admit to using 15-minute visits for personal care
  • over one in five councils provide these rushed visits for personal care
  • Leonard Cheshire Disability wants councils to put a stop to undignified and unsafe ‘flying’ care visits

Thousands of disabled and older people are still receiving undignified homecare in 15-minute slots despite official guidance against these ‘flying’ care visits, and major concerns they deprive people of appropriate and compassionate care.

Leading charity Leonard Cheshire Disability has found at least 33,305 people in England received 15-minute care visits in 2015/16. Of these, 16,311 received them in areas where councils admit to still using ‘flying’ visits for personal care to support people with intimate needs such as washing, dressing and eating.

Freedom of Information responses from councils in England revealed that 34 councils (22%) are still commissioning 15-minute visits for personal care, while another 60 councils gave unclear responses when asked or did not respond.

Short visits continue despite statutory guidance accompanying the Care Act 2014, which came into force in April 2015, stating that:

‘Short home-care visits of 15 minutes or less are not appropriate for people who need support with intimate care needs’[1].

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) also advises that carers must spend a minimum of 30 minutes during visits to help keep people well[2].

The proportion of flying care visits being used by councils has also been revealed. 10 councils which admitted to using 15-minute visits for personal care, also said they commission more than 20% of all their homecare visits in 15-minutes or less. One council is commissioning over 40% of all visits in 15 minutes or less.

Leonard Cheshire Disability has campaigned to end flying care visits through its Make Care Fair campaign since 2013. The charity wants to congratulate a further six councils for their efforts in ending 15-minute personal care visits in 2015/16 bringing the total number up to 52 out of 152 councils in England.

In its November 2016 report The state of social care in Great Britain, Leonard Cheshire Disability says a lack of social care is having a devastating impact on the lives of disabled people, and putting an unbearable strain on our health service.

Leonard Cheshire Disability’s chief executive Neil Heslop said:

‘We should not accept that disabled and older people are still having to endure the indignity and disrespect of receiving flying personal care visits.

‘All of us need time to wash, eat and drink for ourselves, and 15 minutes is nowhere near enough to do these essential tasks if you need support.

‘The reality is thousands of disabled people have to choose whether to go thirsty, go without a hot meal, or go without the toilet during these rushed visits.

‘Councils should be observing official guidance and putting an end to 15-minute personal care visits for good.

‘None of us would want our family and friends to receive personal care visits as short as 15 minutes, so we should not accept this happening across the country to anyone else.’

In England, at least 400,000 fewer people are now receiving social care compared to 2009. This is against a backdrop of 1.4 million more working age adults living with a disability compared to 2010.

Leonard Cheshire Disability is urging the government to rapidly restore the social care safety net which allows millions of disabled people to live and work with independence and dignity by calling for:

  • Funding earmarked for social care under the Better Care Fund in 2019/20 brought urgently forward to alleviate the huge pressure facing the social care system now.
  • A national commission to plan how we will meet the growing demand for dignified, person-centered social care, and how this will be funded.

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Notes to editors

Research methodology

FOI data: in August 2016 Leonard Cheshire Disability sent freedom of information (FOI) requests to 152 local authorities commissioning social care in England. This followed three previous requests sent by the charity starting in 2013.

About Leonard Cheshire Disability

Leonard Cheshire Disability is the UK’s largest voluntary sector provider of services for disabled people. Our services include high-quality care and community support together with innovative projects supporting disabled people into education, employment and entrepreneurship. Worldwide, our global alliance of Cheshire partners supports disabled people into education and employment, and works in more than 50 countries. With over 7,500 staff, the charity supports over 7,000 disabled people in the UK.

Footnotes

  1. DoH Care and Support Statutory Guidance.
  2. NICE guidance on 15-minute home care visits.