Care minister Norman Lamb has revealed the next steps in the government’s crackdown on problems in the home care system. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) will be able to inspect councils over 15-minute care commissioning, he insists.

Waiting for Carer

They have removed the CQC’s duty to routinely inspect councils but say it will allow checks to examine poor commissioning. Tougher checks may be introduced to ensure home care workers are not forced to rush visits to the people they are there to help, under proposals to be outlined by care minister Norman Lamb.

From April 2014, the CQC is proposing to look at whether home care visits are long enough to respond to people’s needs.  This will mean they may consider looking at how staff working conditions might be impacting on care. Issues under consideration may include:

  • Whether the service is able to respond to people’s needs in the allocated time
  • Whether care is delivered with compassion, dignity and respect
  • How many staff have zero hour contracts
  • Levels of staff turnover

Lamb says the CQC would use this information to “drive its regulatory activity, so it knows when, where and what to inspect and is alerted quickly to the risk of poor quality care in home care settings”. The current approach to home care is not fair on those who need support, it’s not fair on care workers and it is stripping away the human element of caring. Fifteen minutes is not enough time to help people who are older or who have a disability to do everyday things like wash, dress and get out of bed. Some do not even get the chance to have a conversation with their home care worker, who may be the only person they see that day. These tougher checks would ask specific questions about the amount of time allocated for visits and whether staff are suitably supported to do this. This is particularly important because these are services delivered in private, behind closed doors.”

The CQC will be also be able to inspect councils over their commissioning of the much talked about ’15-minute care visits’. Health minister Earl Howe said the CQC’s core role was to regulate providers, but the government would allow it to inspect councils where poor provision was caused by poor commissioning – as is often claimed with 15-minute home care visits.

Campaigners against 15-minute visits warned these efforts could be blunted by the government’s removal of the CQC’s duty to make routine checks on council adult services. Though this duty has not been enforced since 2010, the Care Bill as originally drafted would have retained it and Lamb had said earlier this year that he was considering reinstituting it in practice. However, the government tabled an amendment to the Care Bill that would remove the duty, which this has been passed in a House of Lords debate, despite several peers warning that it would undermine the CQC’s ability to challenge poor care.

As HomeCareDirect work differently from many providers in that our personal assistants only work the one person who has chosen them to be their carer we do not have packages where short multiple calls occur.  However this kind of care is widely used with the industry and councils have been commissioning short multiple calls for many years.  We feel that to provide high quality personalised care in 15-minutes is not a realistic prospect and we welcome the news that CQC will be inspecting the commissioning of these care calls.

Please get in touch with us here to share your thoughts and experiences on short care calls or 15-minute home care visits, whether you are a carer or someone who requires care we’d love to hear your thoughts.