carersteaTHOUSANDS 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 revealed that 34 councils (22%) are still commissioning 15-minute visits for personal care, while another 60 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: short home-care visits of 15 minutes or less are not appropriate for people who need support with intimate care needs.’

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.

The proportion of flying care visits being used by councils has also been revealed.

Ten 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’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.