Nearly three-quarters of local authorities in England are still limiting homecare visits to just fifteen minutes, according to a new report by Unison.
Elderly, ill and disabled people are being denied dignified care by the majority of councils in England (74%), according to the findings of a freedom of information (FOI) request sent to 152 local authorities.
Unison says the findings mirror an earlier FOI request sent to local authorities, which found that 74% of homecare workers feel they are not given sufficient time to provide care for people they visit.
The report – Suffering Alone at Home (pdf) – also shows that more than half (57%) of homecare workers are expected to provide care for a person they’ve never met in just 15 minutes or less.
85% say this does not give them enough time to build an important relationship with the person being cared for, while 32% say they were unable to address people’s personal hygiene needs.
Worryingly, 24% had no time to help an elderly, ill or disabled person to the toilet.
Homecare workers also warned of the loneliness felt by many vulnerable people, with 37% rarely seeing family and friends. Because of this, homecare workers felt that it was extremely important to spend as much time with these people as possible.
UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “It is heartbreaking and distressing that many elderly and disabled people are not being cared for in a humane and dignified manner.
“Homecare workers have shared their harrowing stories with a strong sense of sadness, guilt, anger, and ultimately disgust, at a broken homecare system.
“Eye-watering cuts imposed by the government mean councils are still 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.
“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.
“With the challenge of an ageing population living longer, care planning and adequate funding for social care should be a government priority and it clearly is not.
“Ministers should stop passing the social care buck to councils, and dig deep to find the cash from Treasury coffers to provide dignified care for the elderly.
“Rushed 15 minute homecare visits should have no place in a modern, caring society.”