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Flying care visits branded a 'disgrace'

A Christian charity that looks after the elderly says 15-minute care visits are stripping vulnerable people of their dignity. The Outlook Trust is responding to research by the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity which shows that shorter visits to the elderly and disabled are on the rise.

A report by Leonard Cheshire shows 60 percent of local authorities in England are commissioning care visits of just 15 minutes. The charity said that flying visits can force disabled people to choose whether to go thirsty or to go to the toilet. It wants the government to support an amendment to the Care Bill setting out a minimum length for care visits. But the government said the legislation would prevent "inappropriate" short visits but would not outlaw 15-minute visits. The Outlook Trust's National Director Robin Rolls told Premier's Marcus Jones during the News Hour that these visits deprive people of essential care:

The 'Ending 15-Minute Care' report published by Leonard Cheshire shows the proportion of care visits which lasted 15 minutes or less has risen by 15% over the past five years.

It also found that some local authorities deliver more than three-quarters of their care visits in 15 minutes and 15% of councils deliver more than a quarter of all of their care visits to disabled and older people in 15 minutes or less. A survey of 2,025 people revealed that 96% of those who expressed an opinion agree that disabled or older people have the right to receive social care visits that allow for enough time for care workers to give the appropriate support to do everyday things. Leonard Cheshire is calling the 15-minute visits 'disgraceful'.

Its National Campaigns Manager Emma Lindsay said short appointment times do not allow enough time to deliver good quality care:

"The visit from a carer might be the only person they see that day so it is just not the right way to support people if a carer is dashing in and doesn't have time to talk to people and is dashing out again."

Esther Rantzen, who's about to launch the Silver Line helpline for older people, said the 15 minutes should be doubled:

"I think half an hour is the minimum even for what seems like a mechanical task because it is not mechancial, you are not working with machines, you are working with somebody who may be utterly alone for the rest of the day."

The government's Care Bill will be debated in the House of Lords on Wednesday.

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