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09th June 2014

Conveyor Belt Care

Timer in handDignified care is human - not task - led

15 minute homecare calls are back in the media spotlight once again after Ed Miliband stated that his Labour Government would end “clockwatch care”. His comments sparked great debate across the nation and views were aired on social media sites. I have written before about 15 minute homecare calls and how myself and other homecare providers, are frequently being asked to deliver care in such a short period of time.

It’s so depressing, degrading and dehumanizing to think of our clients as a checklist of ‘tasks’ rather than a person with their own wants and needs. The result is that, potentially, care workers will see 4 clients every hour - a conveyor belt of human beings with a checklist more important than a conversation and some social interaction.

The ‘conveyor belt’ effect completely dehumanizes the service and takes the focus away from what the service was created to achieve – to help and support those most vulnerable in our communities in a safe, caring and dignified way.

Contact with the outside world

After a recent break away from work, I returned eager to catch up with some of our clients, and I visited one particular lady on my way home from work. Her carers are her only contact with the outside world other than her postman, and she receives 30 minutes of care and support each day. I popped in with the intention of spending half an hour or so, to say ‘Hello how are you?’. I left her 2 and a half hours later.

When I was a homecare worker I failed miserably at time management and I have never really improved. Yet the expectation is that our workforce will stick to tight timescales in order to meet the demands of the service. I understand the carer’s feeling of frustration when they have to ‘rush’ a Service User in a 15 minute call. They feel guilty, that they have failed their clients if they do not give them the time they need – which can alter on a daily basis according to their mood and wellbeing.

The plight of our older generation further depresses me when I found out this week that one of our ladies spent £100 per month on her telephone bill. Why? You ask. Telephoning friends and family? No. Ringing a telephone directory service to have some contact with another human being.

Depression symptoms

A recent factsheet published by Age UK, into Later Life (dated 4th June 2014) which states that depression affects 22% of men and 28% of women aged 65 or over, representing around 2 million people living in our communities. Emotional and psychological stress is closely related to loneliness and isolation, resulting in depression symptoms which are often not recognised.

I have attended many meetings when personalised care is discussed, but I very rarely see any physical evidence of it. Care plans from social workers continue to be written with lists of tasks - not outcomes to be achieved. Care is still be commissioned on a traditional ‘task list’ rather than a holistic personalised approach, despite what government ministers think. And the assumption that our older generation can all be defined by the same short shopping list of tasks is not only insulting, but unforgiveable.

Rosie Robinson – QCS Expert Care Contributor

Sarah Riley

Senior Customer Care Executive

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