FIFTEEN-minute care visits are not wrong. We need to focus on what is achieved for a person who needs support, not the length of time they are supported for.
No person should have to choose between having a drink or going to the toilet; no carer should feel that they can’t respond to a person if they find them in crisis; but these are different issues.
Fifteen minute care visits can be a lifeline to some people and their families: they can mean the difference between someone being able to remain in their own home or ending up in a care home; or the difference between a family member being able to keep on working on having to become a full-time carer. Sometimes 15 minutes is all it takes.
From a survey of our members we found that local authorities most commonly use 15-minute visits to prompt people to take medicine; to check that people are OK; to help people put on stockings; or to prompt people to eat meals and have drinks.
All councils responding reported that 15-minute visits were part of an overall care package which could include a total of five hours a day spent inside an individual’s home.
In fact, many councils do not specify that the organisations who deliver care service to people must carry out 15-minute visits at all, rather that any part hours must be a percentage of the full hour rate. So in many cases, it is a way of accounting for time.
Almost 650,000 people and their families are supported by social work services in Scotland every year. We work hard to make sure people have choice and control over their lives and we aim to deliver support to people in the way they want and in a way that helps them live the lives they want to.
When things go wrong or people are not happy with the care we provide, we do everything we can to sort that out.
It is unfair, and in some cases verging on scaremongering, to extrapolate that all care is of questionable quality, based on the length of the visit. It is also unfair to conclude that everyone getting a 15-minute visit wants a longer visit – in fact, many people want as little interference in their lives as possible.
We have a responsibility to get this into perspective.
• Sandy Riddell is president of the Association of Directors of Social Work