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Some patients in Suffolk and Essex receiving “15-minute homecare visits” – report

10:00 30 January 2016

Some older people are having homecare visits limited to 15 minutes, a new report claims. Photo: Thinkstock

Some older people are having homecare visits limited to 15 minutes, a new report claims. Photo: Thinkstock

Archant

Homecare visits to some older and disabled people in the East of England have been limited to just 15 minutes, a new report has claimed.

Bosses at UNISON, which released its Suffering Alone at Home publication yesterday, suggested “100%” of authorities in the region have seen patients receive care in that timeframe.

Earlier this month it was claimed that agencies which were contracted to provide care were struggling to cope with demand.

Responding to the report yesterday, Lori Williams-Jasaitis, managing director of Suffolk homecare agency Angels By Classic, said: “Sadly, as the owner of a very busy care agency in Suffolk, I do hear from some of the clients who come across to us that they have felt ‘rushed’ in the past by previous homecare services.

“I’m also seeing the huge issue this is causing to the morale of those coming to work in the care sector because they don’t want to be undercutting the amount of valuable time they spend with the elderly or unwell.

“Today’s news is very much part of a bigger picture, and certainly we at Angels are doing everything we can to provide the best environment for both our care staff, and for the individuals we serve. Making someone feel respected and considered should never be judged against a clock.”

Homecare workers can offer services including washing, dressing and eating to in need patients.

A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “[The council’s] Adult Community Services has an overarching policy which sets out our approach to the delivery of care and support.

“In general we do not encourage home care visits of under 30 minutes and certainly not for personal care.

“However, where people require medication prompts or welfare checks to support their well-being and this cannot be achieved via a phone call or text, then we may well provide 15 minute visits if this approach is what is required to keep people safe and well.”

Nationally, according to the report, a total of 74% of authorities in England are “limiting homecare visits for the elderly” – a situation described as heartbreaking and distressing by UNION general secretary Dave Prentis.

That figure were revealed in a series of Freedom of Information requests.

And in a survey, 74% of healthcare workers said they felt they did not have enough time to “provide dignified care for the elderly and disabled people they visited”.

Mr Prentis added: “Homecare workers have shared their harrowing stories with a strong sense of sadness, guilt, anger, and ultimately disgust, at a broken homecare system.”

He claimed that “eye-watering government cuts” meant local authorities were “booking the shortest possible visits to care for vulnerable, frail and isolated elderly people”.

“Homecare 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,” he added.

“Although the government is going to allow local authorities to raise council tax to fund social care, the crisis is so great that any extra cash will barely touch the sides.

“It will also be of little help to deprived areas – where the need for home care visits is greater.”

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