Once again we are going back to an old chestnut – home care given in 15 minute visits. It seems as if this issue has been discussed for years with constant disgust from prominent people and always the promises to change and here we are in 2016 – no further forward. Well that’s not quite true as official guidelines now recommend staff should spend at least 30 minutes with their clients. But I suppose, as it is only a recommendation, it is easy to ignore. Will we ever get any further forward especially with all the cut backs in services – sorry – efficiency programmes; the National Living Wage – at long last a bit of a boost for carers and the lack of suitably trained staff?
Research has shown that three quarters of councils are still only providing 15 minute visits – perhaps those who oversee these sorts of policies should spend some time at the front line – visiting people for 15 minutes and getting people who are vulnerable, frail, perhaps with some physical or mental disability up out of bed, washed, showered, dressed, walked to a chair and made comfortable, prepare breakfast and perhaps help with feeding, wash up, make sure the correct medication has been given taken, maybe look for glasses, sort out any TV programmes and books which someone may wish to use during the day and write up notes of the visit. How can all this be done with any kind of dignity and humanity in 15 minutes? What if the person is not feeling so good on that day? What if the person has some sort of worry – maybe there have been scam phone calls – who and when will that be sorted out? Some people may want to choose what they want to wear – is there time for choices to be made? Could you do all this in 15 minutes?
Maybe the policy makers should be the client for a week or so and see how they feel to have all of the above done to them in 15 minutes. What about a bit of time for socialising? Observation – any changes in the person’s condition? Talking about the news, what is happening in the world? One of the most important things to keep us alive – where is the time for laughter and fun? Life is for living however restricted not just for existing and being done to.
And what about the staff who have to try and work to these policies? How do they feel? Did they want to make a career out caring or any job to be got through as quickly as possible? Did they think they would be able to help people – make their lives a bit better? We are constantly hearing from staff that they feel unhappy, embarrassed, uncaring as they try to rush a person through to finish in 15 minutes. They don’t have time to talk to the person; don’t have time to undertake any of the tasks with real dignity and often the tasks are not completed in a satisfactory way. There is just the constant stress. Many feel that they are the pilots for the robots who will be coming near you any time soon. Obviously the thinking is that humans don’t need other humans – just machines.
The CQC is not going to be much help as they have announced that they will have fewer resources over the next five years so operations and inspections etc will be restricted – not good when there is constant media coverage of inadequate homes and home care many including abuse and neglect.
So what is the answer apart from not living long enough to have to be part of this system? Again I ask you if you could get up, shower, dress, make your breakfast, eat, wash up, take any medication, find your glasses, books etc and write some notes in 15 minutes? Why not try it – time yourself and see how far you get – how long does it take to complete all the tasks fully? Remember you are not supposed to leave the person stressed. May be at the next meeting either public or small group you could test it out on councillors and council staff. Make them do the role play – have some spare clothes for them to put on, have ingredients for them to make a bit of breakfast – just make them do all the tasks and time them – maybe that is the only way to shock them into realising the implications of their policies.
Do let us know any reaction by councillors and staff to undertaking the role play.