15-minute care visits still being commissioned by councils

4 April 2016

Client helped on with her coatMore than 18 councils are still using 15-minute care visits for personal care. This is despite Care Act guidance advising against them.

Encouragingly, 46 councils have changed their policy on 15-minute care visits since 2013.

We sent Freedom of Information requests to all local authorities responsible for adult social care. We found the majority of councils commissioning 15-minute care visits (64 out of 105) said they do not use them to provide personal care.

But, worryingly, 18 councils are using 15-minute care visits to carry out essential tasks such as washing, dressing and eating.

Additionally, more than 23 councils did not respond to a question on personal care when asked for clarification.

Care Act guidance

Short visits continue despite statutory Care Act guidance, which states, ‘short home-care visits of 15-minutes or less are not appropriate for people who need support with intimate care needs.’

The National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) also advises that carers must spend a minimum of 30 minutes during visits to help keep people well.

We believe flying 15-minute personal care visits are simply not long enough to provide the right care and support to disabled and older people. Many are left facing impossible choices such as using the toilet or having a cup of tea.

More homecare visits, but for fewer people

Our research also showed that councils are commissioning more homecare — but are doing so for fewer people.

Between 2013–14 and 2014–15 the number of hours commissioned increased by 3% while over 6,000 fewer people (a fall of 2%) received homecare commissioned by their local authority.

Make Care Fair

Alarm clock with ‘End 15-minute care’We have campaigned to end flying care visits through our Make Care Fair campaign since 2013.

We'd like to congratulate a number of councils for their efforts in ending 15-minute personal care visits.

Out of the 152 councils surveyed, 16 councils have changed their policy in the last year and no longer commission 15-minute visits for personal care.

This brings the total number of councils that have changed their policy since the start of Make Care Fair to 46, representing nearly a third of all councils in England.

‘We are concerned that many councils are still commissioning flying care visits — often 15 minutes or even less — to deliver essential personal care such as washing, dressing and eating.

‘These rushed visits are simply not long enough to provide dignified support to disabled and older people, leaving many facing impossible choices such as using the toilet or having a cup of tea.

‘We urge councils to follow government guidance which clearly says that 15 minutes is never enough for personal care.

‘After more than three years campaigning on this issue, we know there is still a long way to go before everyone receives the kind of care we all expect for those we love.’ — Clare Pelham

For further details on our new research, see our latest press release.

If you receive 15-minute care visits, or you know some who does, please get in touch.


Some councils like mine (ERYC) are getting round it by not getting round to doing care assessments - I'm having to constantly complain a year on after I was referred for one. They keep using all sorts of excuses to close it, despite the fact that they are not following the act. I've had to get my MP involved after the latest incident.

This is cruelty it might be the only time these precious people have any form of contact what can anyone do in 15 mins not even time to say hello disgusting it's about time our old and needy people get a decent deal I've seen this system first hand it makes me want to cry I'm sure councillors get more time paid for a toilet break

my counsel here in Bradford West Yorkshire have just taken 1.15 mins care of my daughter and replaced it with a 15min PC call in morning and a 30 min call evening , 15 min strip wash ,change pad,do hair ,get up out of bed ,I feed her, do teeth,change bed .

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