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Fears of inadequate home care during visits are confirmed

Repeated pledges to crack down on the “clock-watch-care” scandal by councils who contract the services need to be enforced.

An investigation by the Telegraph found more than 500,000 home care visits lasted under five minutes.

Norman Lamb, Care Minister, said, “It is totally inappropriate and unacceptable for frail elderly people and those
with disabilities to receive care visits to address their personal needs in this sort of time. It is just fanciful to think that elderly people can be provided with compassionate and kind care in this sort of timeslot.”

Lamb has warned local councils that visits of 15 minutes or less do not provide an adequate level of in-home care for seniors. Providers cannot help people wash, dress and get out of bed in 15 minutes, let alone in one third the time. Trying to hurry the tasks along was “stripping away the human element of caring.”

The 15 minute time slot scandal broke in December, but detailed statistics — acquired through the Freedom of Information Act — showed that over 593,000 care visits to pensioners lasting five minutes of less were approved by eight city councils from 2010 to 2013.

“The five minutes in no way refers to the care they receive, and would be accompanied by a detailed package of care tailored to their needs,” responded Dave Branwood, cabinet member for adult and community services at Dudley Council. “We find these brief visits help us to be more flexible in “checking in” on people and provide them with helpful regular visits from our carers. In other words this regular pattern of frequent visits is not to be confused with examples in the private sector were the care package its self may be concentrated into a five or 10 minute visit.”

The new revelations have focused attention on independent living for the elderly and infirm and calls for an overhaul of the system. The new Care Act goes into effect in April to address some of the concerns of vulnerable people to stay healthy and independent.

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