Pensioners Getting Just 15 Minutes of Daily Home Care

Home Instead Senior Care staff were concerned recently to read the results of a survey by UNISON, which concluded that the number of Councils in England who were commissioning home care visits in the shortest available time slot – 15 minutes – has actually risen in the last year despite the Government promising that this would change.  The results which were discovered under a Freedom of Information request reveals that 74% of local authorities are requesting 15 minute visits, a rise of 5% from the same survey completed last year.

Of the 149 local authorities surveyed, 110 councils admitted to commissioning 15 minute visits, up from 100 out of 144 last year.  The authorities who are commissioning these short visits include: Trafford, Manchester, Cheshire West, Cheshire East, and Stockport. Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, has been quoted as saying: “the figures are unacceptable” and there are “too many examples of councils buying rushed care visits.”

Leonard Cheshire Disability recently ran a campaign, called “Make Care Fair”, featuring Esther Rantzen. The aim of this campaign was to show that 15 minutes is too short a time to complete the everyday tasks that most of us take for granted. The majority of us need at least 40 minutes in the morning alone, to get up, get washed, get dressed and have breakfast. With a time limit of just 15 minutes, carers often have to rush through tasks, and so have no time to provide any personal care or support which the individual might feel is important.

Guidance published by the Department of Health in 2013 states that visits of 15 minutes or less are not appropriate for people who need help with things such as washing, going to the toilet or dressing. The aim of the 15 minute visits should be to check if someone has taken their medication or got home safely. They also stated that the Care Quality Commission (CQC) would look into the results, as people should not have to choose between being washed and being fed. However, the CQC has no legal powers to challenge councils if they chose 15 minute visits, all they can do is inspect and challenge care providers.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis says: “We know from our members working in home care, that 15 minute visits are not just being used for medication prompts, but that home care workers are being forced to deliver personal care in 15 minutes.” He went on to say: “The Government’s decision to sit on its hands flies in the face of its earlier commitment to stamp out the practice of rushed homecare visits. For some people, the time they spend with a home care worker is the only human interaction they may have on that day.” 

Breaking the mould of traditional commissioned care, Home Instead has a minimum call of 1 hour, and the vast majority of their calls are 2 hours or more. Helping people live independently in their own homes, Home Instead Senior Care offer a range of services including: Companionship (such as: reading, planning visits and trips, and discussing current/historical events), Home Help (such as: collect prescriptions, meal preparation and tidying away, and checking food expiry dates), and Personal Care (such as: help with bathing, assist with dressing, and help with grooming).

If you would like more information about the services provided by Home Instead Senior Care and why we are different, please call 0161 480 0646 or visit:

A group of Home Instead CAREGivers talking
Family welcoming a Home Instead care manager into their home