The council must do more to ensure 15 minute care visits comply with its own policies, an inquiry has said.
There are 689 people in Bucks who recieve so-called ‘flying visits’ from carers commissioned by Bucks County Council, which states that they must only be used for simple tasks such as medication and welfare checks.
However, an inquiry by the council’s health and adult social care select committee found this guidance was not always followed, with care workers over-stretched on six of the 27 visits it observed.
Fourteen of the 40 care plans reviewed by the committee also appeared to allocate too many tasks for such a short amount of time, although managers only accepted four of these needed to be changed.
Overall, the committee said its findings were ‘reassuring’: “We concluded that 15 minute care visits can have a place as part of a person’s overall care package with care in a dignified manner.”
But it recommended that the council better monitors how its policy is implemented and communicated to staff. It said it should also provide monthly data on the number of requests from clients or their families for more time to be spent with them. Between January and May there were 424 requests for increases.
Angela Macpherson, committee chairman, said: “We understand the concerns nationally about ‘flying’ care visits that do not leave enough time for vulnerable people to be looked after.
“However, 15-minute visits can and do work in the context of, say, a day in which there have been longer visits or when there are simple tasks to be carried out, such as medication checks or providing a snack or a drink or a trip to the toilet.
“The service users can benefit from having carers drop in frequently to do certain tasks.
”What we don’t want to happen, though, is for these shorter visits to be used for more intimate personal care, as this will compromise people’s dignity.”
The committee’s report also said that care staff should be paid for travel time between visits.
“We observed some of the carers we shadowed working up to an extra 2.5 hours in a day in travel time for which they were not being paid for...It was our view that this could be counter-productive to improving staff retention and recruitment in what is a very difficult, yet fundamentally essential profession.”
There are four main firms which provide care services for the council. Their contracts are due to expire in March 2016 and a procurement process is currently underway.