What do health and wellbeing boards think about 15-minute care visits?

21 January 2014

Ciaran Osborneby Ciaran Osborne

Our campaign to end 15-minute ‘flying’ care visits had a huge amount of support and attention from the media and the general public. But what do the people who decide on what care we all get think? We decided to find out.

Following the publication of our report Ending 15-minute Care, we sent a survey to the health and wellbeing boards (HWBs) — made up of leaders from the health and care system in the local area — from all the councils in England, to find out what they thought.

We asked HWB members what they thought about 15-minute visits, how sure they were that their council wasn’t commissioning inappropriate ‘flying’ visits, and what they thought should be done (if anything) to reduce 15-minute visits. We’ve set out below what they told us — based on responses from 40 HWBs (out of a total of 152).

In general, HWB members think 15-minute visits are not a good thing:

  • 95% think 15-minutes isn’t long enough to help people wash or get out of bed.
  • Of those who expressed an opinion, three in five (61%) think 15-minute visits deprive disabled and elderly people of their dignity.

However, when it came to what was happening in their local authorities, HWB members were less sure:

  • Only one in five (22%) were very sure that visits offered in their area were sufficiently long, with two in five (39%) not at all sure.
  • Only a quarter (27%) were fully confident that nobody in their area was having to choose between having a drink and going to the bathroom, with a third (32%) not at all confident.
  • While almost half (49%) were very sure that their council was only delivering 15-minute visits for delivering medication or other exceptional circumstances, a quarter (27%) were only quite sure and a further quarter (24%) were not at all sure.

When we asked them who should take action to reduce 15-minute visits, the answers were interesting too. More than half (58%) think that national government should set minimum standards on 15-minute visits, but in general they do not believe that the government has yet taken decisive action:

  • Under a quarter (23%) believe that recent changes to the Care Bill will prevent 15-minute visits, compared to a third (35%) who think it won’t, and almost half (43%) that don’t know.
  • Almost half (49%) support a further amendment to the Care Bill to outlaw 15-minute visits.
  • A whopping six in seven (85%) think the government should reverse its plans and allow the Care Quality Commission to investigate commissioning as well as care provision in the local area.

So, the word from council HWBs seems to chime with the public mood. They think that 15-minute visits are unacceptable, they acknowledge that they are still going on in the majority of areas, and they believe that it is down to the government to take decisive action to stop these inappropriate visits in their tracks.

We’ll be using this info as part of our work around the Care Bill — which is currently going through the House of Commons — to make sure that the government know that it is down to them to take decisive action to stop 15-minute care visits. Join our campaigns network to help us get the message across loud and clear.

Ciaran Osborne is the policy and research manager in Leonard Cheshire Disability's campaigns team.


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