Time to care: It will be hard to resolve the scandal of flying carers’ visits without more money

The health minister is right to describe these phantom, mini-visits as "unfair", but real reform is now needed to avoid further damage

Share

As the population in Britain ages, more of us are going to be sicker for longer, which is why the debate on the type of care we receive at home is bound to become heated. The Government recognises this, and is pushing ahead with the Care Bill, full of fine, compassionate-sounding phrases about joining up dots, empowering carers and patients alike and putting people “in control of the services they use”.

The question is whether most people on the receiving end of care recognise this uplifting narrative as matching their own experiences – which is unlikely, especially in the light of the report of a well-known charity, which says councils are plugging holes in care networks by commissioning flying visits of a mere 15 minutes.

This claim does not come from a new or obscure organisation that can be accused of pursuing a partisan agenda, or of making flamboyant assertions mainly for the sake of drawing attention. Leonard Cheshire Disability is one of the biggest, most respected, charities in Britain working in welfare and disability. Its words carry authority when it says that disabled people on the receiving end of these lightning visits have to make such absurd choices as deciding between the obviously equivalent priorities of getting a drink or being taken to the bathroom.

Clare Pelham, chief executive of the charity, points out that even people in full possession all their faculties still take about 40 minutes to get ready in the morning, which is why it is especially cruel to expect elderly and disabled people to cram the needs of an entire day into a single quarter-hour visit.

The health minister, Norman Lamb, has described these phantom-like, mini-visits as “unfair”, and has promised an amendment to the Care Bill that would oblige councils to consider people’s wellbeing when arranging their care. He might as well not bother with his proposal, as such an opaque obligation is so open to interpretation as to be almost meaningless. The charity’s own call for a more precise-sounding amendment, obliging councils to make care visits last at least half an hour, is more to the point.

Mr Lamb’s evasiveness about ending the shortcomings of outsourced “call cramming” is, in one sense, understandable. The Government is determined to keep local government finance on a leash. While ministers accept that most people would hate to end up, when sick or old, relying on 15 minutes of help per visit, they know that longer visits would cost a good deal more money, which means taxes going up somewhere.

Obviously, Mr Lamb cannot make the kind of sizeable spending commitment that is required to lengthen carers’ visits without a nod from the Chancellor, George Osborne, who looks unlikely to give it. The Government should think again, before some inevitable, appalling scandal erupts, and forces its hand.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive or Senior Sales Executive - B2B Exhibitions

£18000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Sales Executive or Senior Sal...

Recruitment Genius: Head of Support Services

£40000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Team Leader

£22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This industry leading company produces h...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager / Sales - OTE £40,000

£20000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT provider for the educat...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A press image from the company  

If men are so obsessed by their genitals, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities of sex?

Chloë Hamilton
Workers clean the area in front of the new Turkish Presidential Palace prior to an official reception for Republic day in Ankara  

Up Ankara, for a tour of great crapital cities

Dom Joly
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border
Doris Lessing: Acclaimed novelist was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show

'A subversive brothel keeper and Communist'

Acclaimed novelist Doris Lessing was kept under MI5 observation for 18 years, newly released papers show
Big Blue Live: BBC's Springwatch offshoot swaps back gardens for California's Monterey Bay

BBC heads to the Californian coast

The Big Blue Live crew is preparing for the first of three episodes on Sunday night, filming from boats, planes and an aquarium studio
Austin Bidwell: The Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England with the most daring forgery the world had known

Victorian fraudster who shook the Bank of England

Conman Austin Bidwell. was a heartless cad who carried out the most daring forgery the world had known
Car hacking scandal: Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked

Car hacking scandal

Security designed to stop thieves hot-wiring almost every modern motor has been cracked
10 best placemats

Take your seat: 10 best placemats

Protect your table and dine in style with a bold new accessory