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Ministers call for an end to 15-minute care visits

New draft guidance proposed by the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has advised that care workers must stay at care appointments for at least half an hour if they are providing personal help, such as assistance with getting dressed or eating.

The news comes after it was revealed thousands of local authority care visits were under 15 minutes, with some elderly people only seeing their carers for five minutes before they had to attend another appointment.

Under the proposed new guidelines, visits shorter than 30 minutes will only be permitted for “specific, time limited” functions, such as checking if medicine has been taken. Furthermore, these will only be sufficient if undertaken as part of a wider package of support, and should be delivered by a carer known to the person.

Care Minister Norman Lamb, who pushed for the changes, said: “This sets a standard for the first time. There will be no excuses from councils trying to justify rushed visits which deprive vulnerable people of human contact, and in some cases leave them forced to choose between help washing or dressing.”

In response to the new guidelines, Cllr David Sparks, Chairman of the Local Government Association, said funding remains an issue: “Short visits should never be the sole basis for care. Sadly the rise in short visits is symptomatic of a social care and health system that continues to be chronically underfunded. Adult social care funding is in crisis and it is vital for our elderly population that government urgently addresses this."

Fiona Lowry, our CEO, said: “This news is a step in the right direction, but at Good Care Group, we believe that half an hour is still not nearly long enough to deliver a high quality of holistic care. Our carers plan their work so that they are able to spend unhurried, quality time with your loved ones and build real relationships to complement their needs.”