Managing director of TrueCare (New Forest) Ltd believes Hampshire County Council's 15 minute care slots are insufficient for pensioners' needs

The Daily Echo and charities are calling for a minimum visit time of 30 minutes to give carers the time they need to do their job properly. Picture posed by models.

The Daily Echo and charities are calling for a minimum visit time of 30 minutes to give carers the time they need to do their job properly. Picture posed by models.

First published in News Daily Echo: Photograph of the Author by , Politics and business reporter

YOU ring on the door bell and the stop clock starts.

On the other side is a frail vulnerable woman that might need feeding and taking to the toilet.

As a carer you have just 15 minutes to be in and out, before rushing on to your next call. What would be going through your mind?

Colette Hemstritch-Johnston, the managing director of TrueCare (New Forest) Ltd, knows the answer.

She has shunned new per minute billing contracts Hampshire County Council has rolled out as she believes high quality of care cannot be provided at the flat rates offered for such short visits.

And she has questioned how a 15 minute slot is long enough to prepare a meal and dish it up, let alone offer the vital pastoral care a visit from a carer brings many lonely and isolated elderly people.

The Daily Echo, backed by charities and campaigners for the elderly, has called for Hampshire councils to commit to giving the elderly the dignity of at least 30 minutes of care during visits to their own homes.

Both the county council and Southampton City Council commission just 15 minutes of care from private firms for some frail and disabled pensioners still living at home in a bid to save money.

Other councils have a minimum half-hour period, for example Bristol and Gloucestershire.

Ms Hemstritch-Johnston, whose firm covers the Waterside and is one of the few three-star providers in the area, said the family of one client who has a 15-minute lunch call provided by the council was also paying her privately for another 15 minutes.

She said while her company does provide 15 minutes calls, they are strictly restricted to safety checks, reminders to take medication or to fix a drink.

A quarter of an hour may also be enough time to toilet someone, depending on the mobility of the client, she said.

But Ms Hemstritch-Johnston insists preparing a meal in that time would mean using a microwave, putting the food on a plate and rushing it out to leave the elderly client alone to eat.

“This this is not what care should be about,” she said. “To provide care to the elderly it is more than task driven.

“For a lunchtime call to work properly a minimum of 30 minutes is needed.

“This enables the carer to go in and greet the client, make sure that they are OK, prepare a microwave meal, dish up, wipe surfaces, communicate with the client, make a drink and possibly leave a further drink for that client.

“There are lots of issues with leaving clients alone to eat especially those with dementia who have a tendency to wander and forget to eat.

“Above all a majority of these clients are living alone and the friendly face of a carer is all they see from one visit to the next or one day to the next. The social interactive is very important to ensure the well being of the elderly."

Ms Hemstritch-Johnston claimed some elderly clients were buying microwaves to accommodate fleeting visits, rather than having a more nutritious and tasty hot cooked meal.

She said she welcomed the monitoring of calls to address attendance problems – including carers missing visits – but she questioned the savings proposed by Hampshire County Council. Ms Hemstritch-Johnston said the new lower flat rates could drive down standards as wages and training costs are squeezed.

Hampshire County Council aims to save £3.2m a year by only paying for the care that is delivered, and is rolling out electronic monitoring of the time when private agency carers start and end home visits.

The council says the new system of clocking-in by phoning from the homes of each elderly person they visit, will cost around £700,000 over three years to implement.

Councillor Alan Dowden, Liberal Democrat opposition spokesman on adult care services, has called for a £2.1m underspend, due to be reported to Tory county council leaders on Monday, to be used to extend the time of visits to include more pastoral care.

Hampshire County Council says only one in seven of its home care visits last 15 minutes.

Executive member for adult social care councillor Felicity Hindson said care packages were agreed by everyone involved before suitable care is commissioned.

She said: “The £2.1m Cllr Dowden mentions refers to a one off sum that has already been committed to other projects.

“Moving to a half hour minimum visit would be an ongoing cost, assuming agencies have sufficient staff or are able to recruit to cover the additional care time.

“Visits for 15 minutes could include checking someone has taken their medication, checking a client has not fallen, putting something in the microwave or helping a client to the toilet, taking into consideration the client may not wish to have a longer visit.”

She said 15 minutes was sufficient for these tasks and said the new hourly rates paid to care providers for services between 7am and 10pm were “reasonable” given scarce public resources.

Cllr Hindson added she wanted to look at working with some of the 100 good neighbour groups in the county to provide extra companionship time to those elderly people who wanted it.

Southampton City Council has been commissioning 15-minute slots for years but insists its priority is to provide ”good quality care to support people to stay in their homes.

Both councils said most home care calls are 30 minutes or longer to provide personal care such as washing and dressing.

Comments (12)

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3:18pm Sun 24 Jun 12

IronLady2010 says...

I am ashamed we give our elderly just 15 minutes of care. Even 30 minutes is insufficient.

I appreciate many elderly don't have family that can visit for numerous reasons.

But, I find it very upsetting that some elderly people have children who are now working, that don't care for their parents.

I was always bought up thinking that one day, after all the hard work my parents put in to my childhood, I would one day return the favour.

My guess is that, to some, the elderly are a waste of time???

Shame on us as a society!
I am ashamed we give our elderly just 15 minutes of care. Even 30 minutes is insufficient. I appreciate many elderly don't have family that can visit for numerous reasons. But, I find it very upsetting that some elderly people have children who are now working, that don't care for their parents. I was always bought up thinking that one day, after all the hard work my parents put in to my childhood, I would one day return the favour. My guess is that, to some, the elderly are a waste of time??? Shame on us as a society! IronLady2010
  • Score: 0

3:24pm Sun 24 Jun 12

IronLady2010 says...

IronLady2010 wrote:
I am ashamed we give our elderly just 15 minutes of care. Even 30 minutes is insufficient.

I appreciate many elderly don't have family that can visit for numerous reasons.

But, I find it very upsetting that some elderly people have children who are now working, that don't care for their parents.

I was always bought up thinking that one day, after all the hard work my parents put in to my childhood, I would one day return the favour.

My guess is that, to some, the elderly are a waste of time???

Shame on us as a society!
Do you know what's even more upsetting? When I speak to my mother, I know she has money tucked away and I tell her to spend it and spoil herself, she replies, no I'm saving it for you.

No matter how much I convince her that I don't want her money, she doesn't listen and feels it's her job as a mother to make sure her children are left with money for the future.

You don't see these words from the children these days!

Getting upset now!
[quote][p][bold]IronLady2010[/bold] wrote: I am ashamed we give our elderly just 15 minutes of care. Even 30 minutes is insufficient. I appreciate many elderly don't have family that can visit for numerous reasons. But, I find it very upsetting that some elderly people have children who are now working, that don't care for their parents. I was always bought up thinking that one day, after all the hard work my parents put in to my childhood, I would one day return the favour. My guess is that, to some, the elderly are a waste of time??? Shame on us as a society![/p][/quote]Do you know what's even more upsetting? When I speak to my mother, I know she has money tucked away and I tell her to spend it and spoil herself, she replies, no I'm saving it for you. No matter how much I convince her that I don't want her money, she doesn't listen and feels it's her job as a mother to make sure her children are left with money for the future. You don't see these words from the children these days! Getting upset now! IronLady2010
  • Score: 0

3:40pm Sun 24 Jun 12

erica smith says...

the fact is that 15 minutes is definitely NOT enough time for anything, let along preparing a meal, making a drink or supervising medication being taken..... older people need time to accept what is needed and to be able to come to terms with their situation, even on a daily basis...... care cannot be counted in minutes...... a bit like hospitals.. people are NOT widgets on a conveyor belt... they are human beings and as such need to be treated as such........... it is a very sad indictment of our society today that care is based on time and money rather than quality and the results, such as a smile and a feeling of trust from the older person RATHER than a box ticked and a confused older person wondering when their next meal may be arriving............
.. shame on us as a society indeed............ time costs money yes but most of these older people have given most of their time to their country in WW1 and WW2 and this is how they end their days.......... shame on us indeed.
the fact is that 15 minutes is definitely NOT enough time for anything, let along preparing a meal, making a drink or supervising medication being taken..... older people need time to accept what is needed and to be able to come to terms with their situation, even on a daily basis...... care cannot be counted in minutes...... a bit like hospitals.. people are NOT widgets on a conveyor belt... they are human beings and as such need to be treated as such........... it is a very sad indictment of our society today that care is based on time and money rather than quality and the results, such as a smile and a feeling of trust from the older person RATHER than a box ticked and a confused older person wondering when their next meal may be arriving............ .. shame on us as a society indeed............ time costs money yes but most of these older people have given most of their time to their country in WW1 and WW2 and this is how they end their days.......... shame on us indeed. erica smith
  • Score: 0

3:51pm Sun 24 Jun 12

IronLady2010 says...

Not wishing to go off topic, but if we closed some loopeholes regarding Tax evasion, then surely that money would give at least 5 hours a day to EVERY elderly person in the UK that needs help and money left over.

As always the rich win whilst those who need help suffer. I'm not putting the blame on this or any other Government before someone starts turning this into a political fight.

It just seems our elderly folk who as the above poster mentioned, many fought for this Country and yet we can only spare them 15 minutes a day.
Not wishing to go off topic, but if we closed some loopeholes regarding Tax evasion, then surely that money would give at least 5 hours a day to EVERY elderly person in the UK that needs help and money left over. As always the rich win whilst those who need help suffer. I'm not putting the blame on this or any other Government before someone starts turning this into a political fight. It just seems our elderly folk who as the above poster mentioned, many fought for this Country and yet we can only spare them 15 minutes a day. IronLady2010
  • Score: 0

4:04pm Sun 24 Jun 12

bravebeth says...

Some of the elderly do not even get 15 minutes of care. They seem to spend less than 4 minutes with the elderly.
Some of the elderly do not even get 15 minutes of care. They seem to spend less than 4 minutes with the elderly. bravebeth
  • Score: 0

4:17pm Sun 24 Jun 12

IronLady2010 says...

bravebeth wrote:
Some of the elderly do not even get 15 minutes of care. They seem to spend less than 4 minutes with the elderly.
I respect your post, but have you reported this?

Your post may suggest the Council don't know what you have stated?
[quote][p][bold]bravebeth[/bold] wrote: Some of the elderly do not even get 15 minutes of care. They seem to spend less than 4 minutes with the elderly.[/p][/quote]I respect your post, but have you reported this? Your post may suggest the Council don't know what you have stated? IronLady2010
  • Score: 0

5:20pm Sun 24 Jun 12

Ant Smoking MP says...

IronLady2010 wrote:
bravebeth wrote:
Some of the elderly do not even get 15 minutes of care. They seem to spend less than 4 minutes with the elderly.
I respect your post, but have you reported this?

Your post may suggest the Council don't know what you have stated?
I agree with you 100% and I am a 100% socialist> Your points about Tax Evasion are completely in line with what socialists say>
[quote][p][bold]IronLady2010[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]bravebeth[/bold] wrote: Some of the elderly do not even get 15 minutes of care. They seem to spend less than 4 minutes with the elderly.[/p][/quote]I respect your post, but have you reported this? Your post may suggest the Council don't know what you have stated?[/p][/quote]I agree with you 100% and I am a 100% socialist> Your points about Tax Evasion are completely in line with what socialists say> Ant Smoking MP
  • Score: 0

5:35pm Sun 24 Jun 12

IronLady2010 says...

Ant Smoking MP wrote:
IronLady2010 wrote:
bravebeth wrote:
Some of the elderly do not even get 15 minutes of care. They seem to spend less than 4 minutes with the elderly.
I respect your post, but have you reported this?

Your post may suggest the Council don't know what you have stated?
I agree with you 100% and I am a 100% socialist> Your points about Tax Evasion are completely in line with what socialists say>
Ant, just for once, let's respect the elders.

Right Wing, Left Wing clap trap.

Right now, we should be concerned about what is happening this very minute, not who is right or wrong and who should be voted in come the next election.

Remember, today is Sunday, which when I was young, I would have had a roast dinner after helping stir the cornflour for the gravy with my fantastic mother in the kitchen.

Yet you still get back to politics which I don't agree with. We should focus on what we have and pressure them into change. x
[quote][p][bold]Ant Smoking MP[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]IronLady2010[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]bravebeth[/bold] wrote: Some of the elderly do not even get 15 minutes of care. They seem to spend less than 4 minutes with the elderly.[/p][/quote]I respect your post, but have you reported this? Your post may suggest the Council don't know what you have stated?[/p][/quote]I agree with you 100% and I am a 100% socialist> Your points about Tax Evasion are completely in line with what socialists say>[/p][/quote]Ant, just for once, let's respect the elders. Right Wing, Left Wing clap trap. Right now, we should be concerned about what is happening this very minute, not who is right or wrong and who should be voted in come the next election. Remember, today is Sunday, which when I was young, I would have had a roast dinner after helping stir the cornflour for the gravy with my fantastic mother in the kitchen. Yet you still get back to politics which I don't agree with. We should focus on what we have and pressure them into change. x IronLady2010
  • Score: 0

5:46pm Sun 24 Jun 12

IronLady2010 says...

Maybe the Echo could create a team whom after a CRB check can visit the elderly once a week to cook them a nice meal and spend time listening to their experiences of the war etc.

Maybe some of us would learn something from our experienced old folk?
Maybe the Echo could create a team whom after a CRB check can visit the elderly once a week to cook them a nice meal and spend time listening to their experiences of the war etc. Maybe some of us would learn something from our experienced old folk? IronLady2010
  • Score: 0

5:53pm Sun 24 Jun 12

IronLady2010 says...

IronLady2010 wrote:
Maybe the Echo could create a team whom after a CRB check can visit the elderly once a week to cook them a nice meal and spend time listening to their experiences of the war etc.

Maybe some of us would learn something from our experienced old folk?
Come on Matt, must be worthwhile! You keep bringing up the news articles, so you're passionate about it!
[quote][p][bold]IronLady2010[/bold] wrote: Maybe the Echo could create a team whom after a CRB check can visit the elderly once a week to cook them a nice meal and spend time listening to their experiences of the war etc. Maybe some of us would learn something from our experienced old folk?[/p][/quote]Come on Matt, must be worthwhile! You keep bringing up the news articles, so you're passionate about it! IronLady2010
  • Score: 0

2:05am Mon 25 Jun 12

Poppy22 says...

IronLady2010 wrote:
I am ashamed we give our elderly just 15 minutes of care. Even 30 minutes is insufficient. I appreciate many elderly don't have family that can visit for numerous reasons. But, I find it very upsetting that some elderly people have children who are now working, that don't care for their parents. I was always bought up thinking that one day, after all the hard work my parents put in to my childhood, I would one day return the favour. My guess is that, to some, the elderly are a waste of time??? Shame on us as a society!
So true.
Shame on Hampshire Councillors too, who happily pay themselves extortionate bonuses whilst driving down costs on things like care for our elderly. I don't know how the Councillors can live with themselves!
As always, cost cutting and targets are key to so-called "management" by the Council and no thought is being given to the human beings that are supposed to be CARED for - does Hants Council know the meaning of the word?
The length of the care visit should depend on what needs to be done, with perhaps a realistic time allowance for each element (eg preparing food, helping someone to eat their food, toilet needs, etc).
I'd expect a cat sitter to spend more than 15 minutes with my cats if I was paying them to visit my cats in my home.
So what does that say about how our Council treats the elderly? And some of our Councillors are pretty elderly themselves but, sadly, they think themselves different from the elderly community at large and those Councillors will also have enough money to sort out their own care needs when the time arises.
Disgusted!
[quote][p][bold]IronLady2010[/bold] wrote: I am ashamed we give our elderly just 15 minutes of care. Even 30 minutes is insufficient. I appreciate many elderly don't have family that can visit for numerous reasons. But, I find it very upsetting that some elderly people have children who are now working, that don't care for their parents. I was always bought up thinking that one day, after all the hard work my parents put in to my childhood, I would one day return the favour. My guess is that, to some, the elderly are a waste of time??? Shame on us as a society![/p][/quote]So true. Shame on Hampshire Councillors too, who happily pay themselves extortionate bonuses whilst driving down costs on things like care for our elderly. I don't know how the Councillors can live with themselves! As always, cost cutting and targets are key to so-called "management" by the Council and no thought is being given to the human beings that are supposed to be CARED for - does Hants Council know the meaning of the word? The length of the care visit should depend on what needs to be done, with perhaps a realistic time allowance for each element (eg preparing food, helping someone to eat their food, toilet needs, etc). I'd expect a cat sitter to spend more than 15 minutes with my cats if I was paying them to visit my cats in my home. So what does that say about how our Council treats the elderly? And some of our Councillors are pretty elderly themselves but, sadly, they think themselves different from the elderly community at large and those Councillors will also have enough money to sort out their own care needs when the time arises. Disgusted! Poppy22
  • Score: 0

8:58am Mon 25 Jun 12

pod says...

IronLady2010 wrote:
bravebeth wrote:
Some of the elderly do not even get 15 minutes of care. They seem to spend less than 4 minutes with the elderly.
I respect your post, but have you reported this?

Your post may suggest the Council don't know what you have stated?
it is easy to comment on carers, but how do you know this, are you a neighbour? The client may not want the carer to even be in the house and those that need to know are probably aware, they use it as a safety check. As a once long serving carer, this was quite common practise - hello, is everything ok - yes dear, - do you need anything - no thank you dear, please go. A good carer will not overstay her (his) welcome, it could result in the elderly person denying access altogether. Most carers do not use this are a reason to whizz through rounds, but use the time 'saved' at one client to spend with the one that needs more than 15mins, but has not been allocated that amount of time.Carers often work over their rounds without pay, very seldom do they finish a round before time.
You do not need a managing director to tell you this, ask any carer.
Ironlady, the pen pushers in care sections know all this, but as long as the boxes are ticked and it all looks good on paper, they are not worried.
[quote][p][bold]IronLady2010[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]bravebeth[/bold] wrote: Some of the elderly do not even get 15 minutes of care. They seem to spend less than 4 minutes with the elderly.[/p][/quote]I respect your post, but have you reported this? Your post may suggest the Council don't know what you have stated?[/p][/quote]it is easy to comment on carers, but how do you know this, are you a neighbour? The client may not want the carer to even be in the house and those that need to know are probably aware, they use it as a safety check. As a once long serving carer, this was quite common practise - hello, is everything ok - yes dear, - do you need anything - no thank you dear, please go. A good carer will not overstay her (his) welcome, it could result in the elderly person denying access altogether. Most carers do not use this are a reason to whizz through rounds, but use the time 'saved' at one client to spend with the one that needs more than 15mins, but has not been allocated that amount of time.Carers often work over their rounds without pay, very seldom do they finish a round before time. You do not need a managing director to tell you this, ask any carer. Ironlady, the pen pushers in care sections know all this, but as long as the boxes are ticked and it all looks good on paper, they are not worried. pod
  • Score: 0

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