9th Dec, 2016

Elderly and disabled receiving inadequate home care visits say Unison

Stratford Editorial 18th Feb, 2016 Updated: 28th Oct, 2016

ELDERLY and disabled people in Warwickshire are receiving inadequate home care visits of just 15 minutes.

Warwickshire County Council is one of many local authorities in the region limiting care visits for elderly, ill and disabled residents, according to public sector union Unison.

The council currently provide some 2,100 home care packages – with a quarter of all people receiving 15 minute calls as part of their care. Around 40 people have a home care package which is made up entirely of short visits.

A newly published national report by Unison called ‘Suffering Alone At Home’ saw 1,100 home care workers surveyed.

More than 70 per cent said they felt they did not have enough time to provide dignified care for the elderly and disabled.

And nearly 60 per cent have had to provide personal care in 15 minutes or less with an elderly person they have never met before.

Home care workers also said more than a third of the people they saw hardly ever had visits from friends or relatives, which was why they felt it was important to be able to spend time in each person’s home – something which nearly all say they rarely have time to do.

Unison secretary Dave Prentis said: “It is heartbreaking and distressing that many elderly and disabled people are not being cared for in a humane and dignified manner. Home care workers have shared their harrowing stories with a strong sense of sadness, guilt, anger, and ultimately disgust, at a broken home care system.

“Eye-watering cuts imposed by government mean councils are still booking the shortest possible visits to care for vulnerable, frail and isolated elderly people. Home care workers are often the only face some people see all day, and they are a lifeline – only they can call for help and ensure that the housebound people they care for are fed, washed and well.

“With the challenge of an ageing population living longer, care planning and adequate funding for social care should be a government priority. Ministers should stop passing the social care buck to councils, and dig deep to find the cash from treasury coffers to provide dignified care for the elderly. Rushed 15 minute home care visits should have no place in a modern, caring society.”

But Warwickshire County Council say they  try to only limit staff to 15 minute care where they have to.

Coun Jose Compton, spokeswoman for adult social care, said: “Warwickshire County Council recognises the importance of delivering care that supports people to remain in their own home. While currently only a small number of our calls are for 15 minutes, they are primarily used as part of a larger package of care, for example to prompt someone to take their medication.”

In the Midlands region, Sandwell and Hereford councils were the only ones not to restrict carers to 15 minute visits.