Cuts slash elderly home visits to 30 mins

A new survey claims 75% of cash-strapped councils expect carers to finish their home visits to the elderly within just 30 minutes.

From supporting the elderly to get dressed to helping them bath, the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) claims that even some visits, often undertaken by private companies, have now been cut to just 15 minutes.

Dignity under pressure

The damning report claims more than three-quarters (76%) of providers said, over the last twelve months, that councils they worked with were more interested in securing a low price than offering a quality service.

"The provision of community-based care at home," says UKHA chief exec, Bridget Warr, "is fundamentally important to over 640,000 people receiving homecare services across the UK – enabling them to benefit from an independent life in their own communities."

"UKHCA is alarmed by these very short visit times that councils are commissioning for older and disabled people," it says. "We believe that this accounts significantly for reports of homecare services appearing to be rushed, or lacking sufficient dignity."

Worsening demographics

Roll back 12 months to the Dilnot report which proposed a cap on how much the elderly might pay for care. The Dilnot plan effectively limits individual contributions - £35,000 - before the state starts to contribute to the cost of residential care. Meanwhile social care is not ring-fenced, so at risk of more cuts.

Accusations that commissioning of homecare services is a commodity, bought on price alone like paper clips, shames the Coalition says Mike Padgham, chair of UKHCA. Social funding is also a political tightrope in terms of political support, given that a higher proportion of elderly people vote compared to younger people.

The funding demographics look set to get worse. Currently the UK has around 3m people aged 80 or more. That 3m figure is expected to hit 6m by 2030 - and 8m by 2050. Meanwhile Scotland still offers free care to all who need it - though for how long?
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