Fifteen Minutes of Care: is it Enough?

Everyone will have their fifteen minutes of fame, an expression coined by Andy Warhol, who said in 1968 that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” If you were famous, I imagine it might be better enjoyed if it were more than a fleeting moment. And that’s how Leonard Cheshire, the disability charity feels about a flying, fifteen minutes of care. They also say in a recent report challenging the practice that the public support them in calling for the government to end the practice of providing care in these short time slots.

Is it About Economics?

Clock face
Fifteen Minutes of Care
photo credit: garp67

That we are living in an, “Age of Austerity,” is a common theme in the press, in politics and in many blogs. So much so, that we are all pretty tired of hearing about it and if you’re like me, wish the story would move on a bit. The recent news about care being delivered in fifteen minute slots keeps us right in it. Care costs money and there isn’t much of that around at the moment. If the economy needs to pick up, it seems the way that it gets achieved is for as many people as possible to have some spare cash after Pay Day to spend. If more money is needed to provide care services for those in need, then it will have to come from tax payers or some other public service will need to be further deprived.

One of the challenges in delivering health and social care is always to prioritise the people who most need it and who might benefit from it. It’s sometimes referred to as targeting and a good principle of care and support is to provide just the right amount to just the right people. For people who have very high needs they will require a high level of support which includes a lot of time. Those who retain a level of independence need to be supported to do things they find difficult as well as continue to do things they can manage themselves require less. Leonard Cheshire believes,

“If a carer doesn’t even have time to take off their coat, how can they possibly have time to support a disabled person with any kind of dignity through their morning routine of washing, dressing, preparing breakfast and getting ready to face the day?”

It does seem that a short space of time doesn’t permit much interaction which is a loss.

How Much is enough

Striking the balance of providing measured care is one of the trickiest parts of formulating a care plan. It needs careful thought and crucially, involving and incorporating the views and wishes of the person receiving care. Once the care plan is implemented it will also involve reviewing the care and sensitive application of any boundaries it describes. It is quite likely that a fifteen minute period of care will be just enough in some situations, to do what needs to be done but providing support is not a one-size-fits-all arrangement and it does seem that such a short time-slot doesn’t leave a lot of room to be flexible.

What do You Think?

Do you receive a fifteen minute care slot or know someone that does? Maybe you think it isn’t enough or perhaps you are completely satisfied. The central point may be that of dignity:

Flying 15-minute care visits can mean that care workers are asked to provide personal care, including supporting people to dress, bathe, eat and go to the bathroom, in a time-frame that does not allow dignity or respect.

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