Last year I was talking to a colleague at Leonard Cheshire Disability about how we had been seeing more and more 'flying' 15-minute home care visits, and she explained to me the grim reality that they mean in practice - care workers having to rush in, trying to provide complex support to disabled and older people despite barely having time to take off their coats. We said then that this just wasn't right - that it wasn't the sort of support that we would want, or that we would want for our families.
From the moment we had that conversation, Leonard Cheshire has been campaigning to change this - to end the scandal of inappropriate 15-minute care visits.
Well today we've had some really big news. This morning Ed Miliband committed the Labour Party to end 'flying' care visits. We are delighted the Labour Party has listened to us about the dreadful impact of flying visits on disabled people and those supporting them, and have now committed to take action on this issue - if you are one of the thousands of people who has backed our campaign, thank you and well done!
Since we launched our campaign we have made some fantastic progress. We've seen a number of councils commit to stopping these visits or reviewing their practices. We've seen the Government respond to our campaign and amend the Care Bill, although we remain concerned that this might not go far enough. And later this month we're also expecting to see new guidance from the Department of Health that will make it clear that these 'flying' visits are just not right for personal care like supporting someone to get washed and dressed.
So with today's announcement, and the policy review by Baroness Kingsmill that accompanied it, it really does feel like we are now making progress on this incredibly important issue.
Flying 15-minute care visits are a scandal for people who need care and support, and they are also a scandal for the people who have to deliver them.
The passion, commitment and enthusiasm of the more than 7,000 care workers who work with disabled people in Leonard Cheshire Disability services continually inspires us. At one time or another almost all of us will call on the dedication, skill and compassion of a care worker when we are most in need of care and support -- as we get older or after an accident or illness. We must make sure that care is fair for them and the people they support.
A care worker addressed the launch of Baroness Kingsmill's review this morning. Before coming to talk at the event at 8am, she had already visited two people -- one of them an 88-year-old woman with dementia. She had only 30 minutes to help her to get up, washed, dressed, take her medication and eat her breakfast.
The care worker always makes sure she arrives early for these visits so she can help this lady do all these things at her own pace and with the dignity she deserves. She does this in her own time -- she goes above and beyond like this for no extra pay and usually very little recognition. This is the sort of dedication that we at Leonard Cheshire Disability hear about every day.
We will keep fighting to end the scandal of 15-minute care visits. Today's announcement is only a step along the way, but it's a big one. When the government releases its guidance on 15-minute visits later this month, we really hope that will be another big step towards fair care for everyone.