It’s time to end the “absurdity” of 15 minute care visits

Former Brookside actress and 60 Minute Makeover presenter Claire Sweeney features in a satire – commissioned by UNISON – highlighting the indignity suffered by thousands of elderly people because of 15-minute care visits.

The two-minute video has been made to show how cutbacks are leaving vulnerable and elderly people short-changed. Government cuts to social care budgets mean rushed appointments that do not give staff enough time to care properly.

The short film, 15 Minute Care Makeover, is a spoof and features actors. But it has a serious message ­– that a quarter of an hour is all many home care workers have to wash, dress and feed those they look after.

Claire is shown with a stopwatch timing stressed care worker Nisha as she rushes around trying to get pensioner Frank ready for the day. At one point, Claire hands Nisha a bowl of cereal to feed Frank while he is in the toilet just to meet the 15-minute deadline.

The pensioner’s medication also ends up scattered on the floor. Nisha knocks it off the kitchen worktop by accident because Claire keeps telling her to hurry with her tasks.

At the end of the film, Claire blows a whistle and the ‘makeover’ is revealed. A bewildered Frank is shown in just a shirt, vest and underpants looking almost identical as he did when she and Nisha arrived.

The results of a August 2016 freedom of information request by UNISON shows that in our region only four councils do not commission 15 minute visits. The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued guidance in 2015 stating that home care visits should last at least 30 minutes.

Regional head of health Sasha Pearce told us: “This film highlights the human indignity suffered by thousands of vulnerable and elderly people across Britain.

“A care worker is often the only friendly face people see. The film sends a powerful message of the absurdity of giving care workers just a quarter of an hour to look after people.

“A 15-minute visit is not enough time to get people showered, dressed and fed. However, government cuts to council care budgets mean this is the reality for many.

“Care workers just want to care, but they’re forced to rush visits. Ministers must act now and invest properly in social care.”

You can also watch the video on UNISON’s YouTube channel.

The replies to the freedom of information request “Do you commission 15 minute visits?” were:

Bedford Borough Council Yes (not personal care)
Cambridgeshire County Council No
Central Bedfordshire Council Yes
Essex County Council No
Hertfordshire County Council Yes
Luton Borough Council Yes
Norfolk County Council No
Peterborough City Council Yes (not personal care)
Southend-on-Sea Borough Council Yes
Suffolk County Council Yes
Thurrock Council No