Unison claims home carers don’t always even have time for a conversation during brief visits to elderly and disabled

A union is claiming home care visits for elderly and disabled people in Devon are lasting just 15 minutes.

The Unison report says Devon County Council is among 11 South West authorities with the quarter hour limit on visits.

Suffering Alone at Home is based on an online survey of 1,100 homecare workers and data obtained from a Freedom of Information request to 152 local authorities in England.

But Devon County Council has said it and the NHS are working together to put into place new arrangements that would make 30 minute visits the norm.

The survey of workers found the time allocated means the majority (85 per cent) said they regularly didn’t have time for a conversation during some homecare visits.

One third (32 per cent) said they had no time to address people’s personal hygiene needs such as washing, and a quarter (24 per cent) had no time to take people to the toilet.

Half (49 per cent) said a quarter-of-an-hour wasn’t long enough to prepare a nutritional meal, and the same proportion said the shortness of the visit meant there was no time to assess any change in the person’s health.

A council spokesman said: “15 minute visits are currently used only where no intimate personal care is required, and the visit is to check on a person’s wellbeing.”

But Unison’s regional secretary Joanne Kaye 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 faces 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.”

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