A recent play has shone a light on the dangers of short home care visits. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at the end of July and beginning of August, the aptly named ‘Flying Visits’ is based on the experiences and struggles of a real-life care worker, who went on to help abolish 15-minute care visits in her area.
Each episode focuses on the experiences of Hayleigh (played by BAFTA-winning actress Claire Rushbrook), a care worker on the front line. The play is inspired by the experiences of Caroline Firmin, who was being allocated just quarter of an hour to look after the elderly and vulnerable people assigned to her (each episode is therefore 15 minutes long).
Playwright Charlotte Bogard Macleod explained why a shocking discovery led her to start championing the rights of care workers and those in care – she said: “Research led me to an article about home care workers and the flying visits they are forced to make. It seemed extraordinary that, as a society, we could allow so little time to care for the elderly and most vulnerable.”
Fighting for change
In Caroline’s case, she was left feeling exhausted at having to look after her clients in such short visits. She therefore gave a speech to councillors at Southwark Council – as a result, the council abolished 15-minute visits and became one of the first local authorities to adopt trade union UNISON’s ethical care charter.
At Unique Senior Care we think ‘Flying Visits’ is important in raising awareness of the dangers of short home care visits. We don’t believe short visits are enough time to deliver proper care to people with complex needs, and our visits are always a minimum of an hour – with no exception!
However, many care workers are not given the luxury of choice when it comes to time spent with a client. According to UNISON, 15-minute visits are still being commissioned by around a fifth of councils in England and Wales.
The crisis in care
Matt Egan from UNISON, who helped with the play research, said: “This drama shines a light on a national scandal that must end. Care workers and the people they look after are being pushed to breaking point as dangerously short care visits have become the new norm…This not only puts huge stress on employees, it also denies dignity to the vulnerable people they’re trying to help.”
We have previously written about the social care crisis in the UK – in a recent blog post, we talked about the commitment that was needed from the incoming Prime Minister (at the time undecided) in tackling the crisis. Now that Boris Johnson has taken his place in 10 Downing Street, he must follow through on his promise that everyone deserves “security and dignity in their old age”. This is a sentiment reinforced by Matt Egan, who said: “The new Prime Minister pledged to fix social care. He must act now to save a system that’s creaking at the seams.” Time will tell.
You can catch up on all episodes of the drama on the BBC website here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00074hg/episodes/player
If you are interested in arranging at-home care for a loved one, get in touch to discuss your needs further!