Fifteen minutes to care?

Yesterday the Leonard Cheshire Disability organisation revealed that agencies and councils are often routinely scheduling 15 minute long visits for care staff to provide care for people in their own homes.

Fifteen minutes isn’t enough to take someone frail or unsteady to the loo, administer medication or make a simple snack, because as any nurse knows, it’s not just about that. It’s about providing company and a friendly face to someone who may not see another person from one day to another. It’s not enough time to make sure a person feels secure, has everything they need and is comfortable, and is safe to leave alone.

So why’s it like that? Because social and nursing care is not appreciated, nor is it respected. The reason agencies and councils are unable to provide decent levels of care consistently is down to resources. Because resources are finite, we have to ration them. For as long as nursing and social care is not respected, it won’t be adequately funded. With nurses only being paid marginally more than unskilled workers, it’s clear to see that the problem is deeply embedded.

The fault is our own. For as long as we don’t speak out, for as long as we sideline nursing and social care in favour of funding more exciting issues, the sick, frail and vulnerable in society will not receive the care and respect they deserve.

Those who have grown up and grown old in the shadow of the NHS, will find in the words of a 94 year old I nursed, ‘It’s not there for me. I’m too old. I paid my taxes since I was 14, thinking the NHS would be therefore me when I needed it. I need it now, and they told me I’m too old.’

Why are fifteen minute care visits the norm? Because that’s all you need to accomplish the minimum. Surely we should want more than the minimum for the people who have no choice but to rely on it?

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