More time needed to care for elderly and ill – UNISON

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The UNISON survey findings mirror those of the FoI request to local councils. Three quarters (74 per cent) of homecare workers who responded felt they did not have enough time to provide dignified care for the elderly and disabled people they visited. Worryingly says UNISON, 61 per cent said visits of just a quarter of an hour meant they frequently had to rush the care of people who were over 90 years old.

A similar report by UNISON in 2014 showed that the same proportion of councils (74 per cent) were regularly using 15 minute visits. Given the harsh financial climate in which local authorities are operating, UNISON says it is not surprised that there has been no change in the numbers, and fears the situation will only get worse.

The 2015 survey findings show more than half the homecare workers (57 per cent) have been asked to provide personal care in 15 minutes or less with an elderly person they have never met before.

The limited time allocated means the majority of workers (85 per cent) said they regularly didn’t even have time for a conversation during some homecare visits. One third (32 per cent) said they have no time to address people’s personal hygiene needs such as washing, and a quarter (24 per cent) have no time to take people to the toilet.

Half (49 per cent) said a quarter of an hour wasn’t long enough to prepare a nutritional meal, and the same proportion said the shortness of the visit meant there was no time to assess any change in the person’s health.

Homecare workers found the limited time they are able to spend with each person distressing because the majority (82 per cent) of the people they saw on their rounds suffered from dementia and more than three quarters (78 per cent) had mobility issues. More than half (53 per cent) were stroke victims, had mental health issues (51 per cent) and 42 per cent had Parkinson’s disease. Many will have multiple conditions.

Homecare workers also said that more than a third (37 per cent) of the people they saw have hardly ever had visits from friends or relatives, which is why they felt it was important to be able to spend time in each person’s home.

Full story in Stratford Midweek Herald on Tuesday.