Frail and disabled elderly are still only seeing carers for 15 minutes a day


More than a dozen councils across Britain have continued the practice despite Government warnings that they are an “assault on dignity”. 

This has meant disabled and elderly people having to choose between washing and dressing or eating, as carers do not have time to help them with both. 

New figures uncovered by the Liberal Democrats reveal elderly and vulnerable patients have been forced to endure more than a million care visits lasting between five and 15 minutes since 2011. 

More than 425,000 have taken place since 2014 when the Government issued guidance advising against them. 

Last year 93,442 care visits lasted 15 minutes or less and so far this year two councils, Dundee and Comhairle nan Eilean Siar in Scotland, have commissioned more than 7,000 visits lasting less than a quarter-of-an-hour. 

The figures emerged after the Liberal Democrats submitted Freedom of Information requests to all local authorities responsible for social care. 

Party leader Tim Farron said: “One million visits, many lasting 15 minutes or less, is utterly shameful. 

These figures show social care is in crisis. Pressure on the system is unsustainable. 

“Care staff are amazing, I saw myself when my mother was dying of cancer, how they went beyond the call of duty, but what can you do to help some of the most vulnerable people in five minutes – just drop off some drugs and leave?” 

Among councils who admitted commissioning visits of less than 15 minutes since 2014 were Angus, Bracknell Forest, Buckinghamshire, East Sussex, Lincolnshire, Kirklees, Oxfordshire, Perth and Kinross, Scottish Borders, South Ayrshire and the Wirral. 

The statutory Care Act guidance, states “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 also advises carers spend a minimum of 30 minutes. 

Peter Jenkins, disability campaigns director at charity Leonard Cheshire, said: “Many councils still commission flying care visits – often 15 minutes or less – to deliver essential personal care such as washing, dressing and eating. 

“These are not long enough to provide dignified support to disabled and older people, leaving many facing impossible choices like using the toilet or having a cup of tea.” 

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, added: “It’s disappointing efforts to end ‘flying care visits’ have failed, but the need for social care is rising while resources lag far behind.” 

Councillor Izzi Seccombe, chairman of the Local Government Association’s Community Wellbeing Board, said councils did all they could to maintain services. 

A spokeswoman for the Health Department said an extra £3.5billion a year would be given to councils by the end of this Parliament to ensure people “get the high quality care they need”.