Home care visits for elderly and vulnerable people should last for at least half an hour, the health watchdog says.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) also says that providers should focus on what they can or would want to do, rather than adopting a “one size fits all” approach to home care.
Funding cuts have placed a strain on the social care sector and some care visits are known to last for as little as ten to fifteen minutes.
Demand for home care services is predicted to rise exponentially over the next twenty years, with as many as one in four people in England being over the age of 65 by 2035.
NICE has set out “aspirational but achievable” guidelines for the social care sector and recommends “a change in attitude rather than an increase in funding”.
The guidelines also give Clinical Commissioning Groups a slap on the wrist and urges them to treat their care workers “with empathy, courtesy and respect”.
Home care workers should be allowed enough time to complete their caring duties without compromising the dignity of service users, the guidance says.
Care workers should be given enough time to talk with those they care for and their carers, as well as adequate travel time between appointments.
Care visits should only last less than thirty minutes if it part of a wider support package, and only if care workers can properly complete the purpose of their visits in that time.
And where possible, a person should have the same care worker(s) to allow relationships to forms between the care-give and care-receiver.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director for health and social care at NICE: “The need for support at home is something that is likely to affect many of us. As we age, most of us will want to continue living in our own homes, surrounded by a lifetime of memories, for as long as we can.
“Helping a person remain as independent as possible is an important component to maintaining their wellbeing.”
“Without good support, older people can suffer from social isolation, malnutrition or neglect. They may also be at risk of injuring themselves, perhaps from a fall or other accident, if they do not receive adequate help and could end up in hospital.”
Bridget Warr, chief executive of the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) and chair of the guideline group, said: “The help each person needs will differ and it is important that the homecare delivered is tailored specifically to the individual; his or her needs, wishes and aspirations.
“The guideline emphasises the importance of people receiving support from trained and competent staff with whom they are familiar. For this to happen, those commissioning and delivering home care must work together with the person wanting support to plan the right co-ordinated care in the way the person wants.
“They should be sure that there is adequate time allowed for the home care worker to provide good, sensitive support in a way that protects and enhances the person’s dignity, wellbeing and independence.
“The guideline spells out how this can be achieved and will, I hope, help to provide focus for those many providers and commissioners who want to ensure high quality, responsive, sustainable support at home is available to those who want it.”
Responding to NICE’s guidelines, Minister for Community and Social Care, Alistair Burt, said: “Most of us envisage spending our old age in our own home and we want to provide the great care that can make that a reality.
“We asked NICE to develop this guideline so that everyone involved in providing home care has clear standards that we will expect them to follow.
This will not only provide reassurance for countless families who rely on this care but for the thousands of workers who want the time and support to be able to give people the care they deserve.”
Last edited on 24 September 2015 at 6:00am to correct an editor error.