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Council providing three-minute care visits to vulnerable, finds ombudsman


Care workers are taking as little as three minutes to help vulnerable people in their own homes, the social care ombudsman has found, after discovering a council was allocating extremely short visits to hundreds of people.

Amid chronic staff shortages and rising unmet care needs nationwide, a homecare worker commissioned by Warrington borough council sometimes stayed for just three minutes, despite the family paying for the full visit. The council was found to have allocated 15-minute care calls to more than 300 people in the region, despite national guidance stressing these were “not usually appropriate”.

The Homecare Association, which represents care providers, said the number of short calls being commissioned was increasing more widely and said “15-minute visits are inappropriately short”, result in inadequate care and are stressful for workers placed under “unfair pressure”.

The case that triggered the investigation involved a woman with dementia who was paying the full costs of her care under a plan devised by the council. In 15 minutes two agency care workers were expected to wake her, prepare a meal and a drink, ensure she ate and drank, administer her medication, change her incontinence pad, administer any personal care and tidy the kitchen. Electronic monitoring showed they regularly stayed less than 15 minutes and the ombudsman said it was probable her care needs were not met and her care was not dignified.

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Source: The Guardian, 5 January 2023

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