"Inadequate flying visits are indicative of a care system in crisis and coupled with PIP shortcomings have rendered disabled people an increasingly embattled, beleaguered community, singled out for punitive measures."
Almost 20,000 people are still receiving 'flying' 15-minute personal care visits across England, Scotland and Wales. The figure is likely to be even higher as many local authorities would not supply data following freedom of information requests by Leonard Cheshire, a leading disability charity.
At least 18,875 people received personal care visits of fifteen minutes or less for support with intimate care, based on data from councils that admitted the degrading practice in their area.
Leonard Cheshire's research revealed that in total at least 50,677 people across England, Scotland and Wales received 15-minute care visits in 2016/17, although these did include the dropping off of medicine or simple welfare visits. For the first time, data has been gathered from the devolved nations.
The charity has long campaigned against the use of 15-minute personal care visits to support people with basic needs such as washing, dressing and eating. These can deprive people of dignified and compassionate care, going against official guidance in England.
A new law in Wales banning the use of these visits comes into force in April - yet one in four councils there were still using these visits as recently as the end of last year.
Flying visits in England continue despite statutory guidance within the Care Act 2014, which came into force in April 2015 stating: 'short home-care visits of 15 minutes or less are not appropriate for people who need support with intimate care needs.'(i)
Freedom of Information responses from councils in England, Scotland and Wales revealed:
Dr Raymond Lang, a 57-year-old academic with cerebral palsy, understands the importance of good quality care:
'Social care is a fundamental necessity in any civilised society. As a person living with a disability and also maintaining a high pressured professional job, having sufficient time for my full-time day care calls are essential. They enable me to maintain my dignity and independence, as well as being empowered to make a significant contribution to society. There is no doubt that the social care sector in the UK is in crisis, and this needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.'
Leonard Cheshire has campaigned against flying care visits for the last five years. While recognising the slight improvements, progress is still unacceptably slow and hampered by a lack of investment. Good care transforms disabled people's lives. But social care is being chronically underfunded. Leonard Cheshire's chief executive Neil Heslop said:
'As we approach the long awaited government green paper on social care, the situation is tough in the sector. Inadequate flying visits are indicative of a care system in crisis and coupled with PIP shortcomings have rendered disabled people an increasingly embattled, beleaguered community, singled out for punitive measures. We will continue to campaign for the critical long term funding that is needed to transform the provision of care and improve the quality of thousands of lives.'
(i) DoH Care and Support Statutory Guidance
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