The Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman has stated that councils must ensure that any care visits they organise provide sufficient time for care professionals to complete their jobs correctly.
The warning comes after it was discovered that Warrington Borough Council assigned 15-minute care calls to more than 300 people in the district, despite national advice emphasising that they are “not usually appropriate.”
In one instance, which prompted a broader inquiry by the Ombudsman, care staff often stayed for only three minutes, despite the family paying for the entire session.
In the case probed by the Ombudsman, a family originally claimed that care workers from an agency commissioned by the council did not visit a relative with dementia for the allotted amount of time and that they received false billing.
During the examination into this complaint, the Ombudsman grew worried about the relative’s 15-minute care calls.
The Ombudsman exercised its authority to broaden an inquiry when it seemed that more individuals may be affected by similar problems. This prompted the Ombudsman to discover that 313 additional Warrington residents had also received these brief calls.
Michael King, Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman, said: “At the heart of this investigation are people, often vulnerable, who rely on care visits to give them the dignity and quality of life they rightly deserve.
“We are increasingly looking at complaints from a human rights perspective – and councils need to consider the rights of service users to have a private life when commissioning or delivering care.
“Councils also need to make sure that the care they arrange is sufficient to meet people’s needs.
“When looking at visits which may require care workers to dress, wash or feed a person, 15-minutes is rarely enough.”