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Charter seeks to end 15-minute care

18 October 2013

SHUTTERSTOCK

AN END to 15-minute care visits, which force disabled people to choose between staying thirsty or going to the lavatory, one charity reports, is among the demands in a Care Charter launched this week by Citizens UK.

Representatives from 200 members of the movement, including churches, synagogues, and mosques, gathered at Friends House in Euston, London, on Tuesday, promising a "community-led revolution in social care".

The charter calls on care providers and commissioners to ensure that 90 per cent of care is provided by a "small team of named care workers", to train care workers in dealing with dementia, and to pay them a living wage. The aim is to secure a deal from the next government to reform the care system, including providing sufficient funding.

Among those supporting the charter are private health-care companies, including Bupa, the English Community Care Association, and UNISON.

Barbara Nalumu, a care worker and member of Citizens UK, said: "I want to provide good care, but it's not possible when you're rushing in and out. When I am on a 15-minute visit, I sometimes stay behind longer because my client needs more time. I only earn just above the minimum wage, and I don't get paid for travel time. Even after a 50-hour week, I only take home £170, and this is reduced to £100 after paying for my petrol and car that I need for work. I have to work such long hours, and still it's so hard to provide for my daughter and grand-daughter."

Last week, the disability charity Leonard Cheshire reported that two-thirds of local councils were commissioning 15-minute visits from care workers. It says that adults take, on average, at least 40 minutes to carry out essential tasks including getting up, washing, dressing, and eating breakfast, and warns that disabled people are being forced to "choose between staying thirsty and going to the toilet".

The charity's report was published to coincide with the Report Stage of the Care Bill in the House of Lords on Wednesday last week.

The Bishop of Carlisle, the Rt Revd James Newcome, has declared his support for the Leonard Cheshire campaign: "It is intolerable to think that people are expected to rush through these tasks in as little as 15 minutes. I hope that the Government can act and reverse this worrying trend of shorter and shorter care visits."

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