Once again home care services seem to be in the news for the wrong reasons. While the issues surrounding the suitability of 15 minute care visits are important, it’s a shame that this type of coverage tends to dominate the news agenda when it comes to domiciliary care and overshadows the fantastic work that care workers do day in and day out.
I’m sure we all have a view on the effectiveness of a 15 minute care visit and there may be some instances, particularly when a service user has multiple daily visits, that they might be appropriate. But I’m also sure that it’s more than a coincidence that local authority commissioners have increased the number of these visits as their budgets have been tightened.
Perhaps the Care Bill going through Parliament will succeed in making 30 minutes the minimum permissible duration. But for now and the foreseeable future short visits are a fact of life.
Is a 15 minute care visit always 15 minutes?
One concern raised is what happens when a 15 minute visit becomes a 10 minute visit? If a care worker gets held up or lost en-route, or if the person planning the rotas doesn’t appreciate how long it takes to get from one visit to the next, valuable minutes can get shaved off an already tight schedule.
Similarly, 15 minutes may be enough for a fairly routine visit if the care worker knows the service user and knows exactly what needs to be done. But with such a short visit continuity of care becomes an even more acute issue. Not much time for pleasantries and even less to shuffle through paper-based care plans to see what needs to be done.
A significant number of 15 minute care visits will certainly be very difficult to manage without efficient and robust back office systems. Ones that deliver ‘live’ information on visits and care plans directly to care workers. Similarly tools to help plan staff rotas around minimised travel time and maximum continuity of care are fast becoming a necessity rather than a ‘nice to have’.
Whether or not 15 minute care visits disappear in the longer term, the need to squeeze more value out of the care budget is definitely here to stay. The essence of good care will always be the interaction between care worker and service user, but there’s a growing need for care businesses to invest in the planning and management tools that will help make that interaction as productive and caring as possible.
Dan Farrell-Wright, CareForIT
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