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Why we’re thrilled our campaign to end ‘flying visits’ has succeeded

Thursday’s publication of the Care Act guidance was a huge victory in our year-long campaign to end the scandal of 15-minute care visits. We were delighted to see the government make it clear that these “flying visits” are completely unacceptable for personal care.

We launched our campaign to end 15-minute care in summer 2013, after having heard repeatedly from our staff and disabled people about the unacceptable choices people receiving care were being forced to make – often between having a drink and going to the loo. Something had to be done.

Without a clear picture of how often these inadequate visits were happening, and where, we knew it would be difficult to convince the right people that they needed to stop.

To find out what the scale of the problem was, we sent freedom of information requests to every council in England – and were shocked by the response.

The proportion of 15-minute care visits was far too high, at one in nine. These visits were also too widespread, with 60% of local authorities using them. And they were happening more and more frequently; the proportion of flying visits had increased by 15% over the previous five years.

We also heard from many people who receive these flying visits, like Mrs Taylor*:

“What can you do in 15 minutes? By the time they’ve helped me to the commode and helped me to change the time’s up. I end up choosing – have I got time to check if they can fill the hot water bottle? Do I get a drink or do I go to the toilet? If I ask them to boil the hot water and fill my flask for tea they might not have time to do the rest.”

With the scale of the problem clearly so large – and with tens of thousands of disabled and older people being stripped of their dignity by these visits every year – we knew we had to act.

Our year-long campaign saw our report into the scale of 15-minute visits make national news. We visited 10 Downing Street to hand in postcards from thousands of campaign supporters. We also took a giant mug and toilet to Westminster to send a clear message that no one should have to choose between going to the loo and having a cup of tea, and made a film with Esther Rantzen about the issue.

To their credit, politicians from all parties heard our call for action and responded. The government introduced an amendment to the care bill to put wellbeing at the heart of care commissioning, health secretary Jeremy Hunt described 15-minute care as “completely unacceptable” in parliament, and Labour leader Ed Miliband promised to call time on “clock-watch care”.

And now the government’s guidance has made it crystal clear that councils should not be buying these flying visits for personal care. We know that since our campaign began some authorities, like Calderdale, Islington and Essex, have already taken action to end 15-minute visits in their area.

Now is the time for other local authorities to follow their lead. We’ll be watching closely to make sure they do.

http://www.theguardian.com/social-care-network/2014/oct/24/care-act-15-minute-home-care-visit-disability?CMP=twt_gu

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