Ask your friends and colleagues how long it takes them every morning from the unwelcome alarm to the clunk of the front door closing behind them? The answers can illuminate their world view in an intriguing way; some otherwise dreamy types claim to manage it in a brisk 20 minutes. Other apparently brisker characters confess to take an hour or more. Room for plenty of conversation about the social acceptability of breakfast standing-up, or even on the train.
But I'm willing to bet that no-one thinks they can support a disabled person through that morning routine of washing, dressing and preparing breakfast and leave them ready to face their day in less than 15 minutes. And yet that is exactly the task that many care-workers are expected by councils to achieve. Not occasionally when they're short-handed or in an emergency when the snow causes havoc, but as a matter of cool, planned commissioning for home visits to provide everyday 'care' to disabled people.
It's no part of my ambition to criticise local councils. I think in general they do a great - and unrecognised - job in providing services to local people. But they are under massive financial pressure, and understandably are looking to cut costs wherever they can.
But unlike libraries and dustbins, cutting the quality of 'care' their council provides to disabled people is simply invisible to local people, and I am certain that if they knew, they would say "not in my name." When money is tight, there is surprising clarity from almost all taxpayers about where it should go. We look to safeguard our families and then look to protect the vulnerable in our community - children, disabled people and older people.
It is a proper function of elected representatives to uphold minimum standards for public services. No-one would think it acceptable even in the age of austerity, for example, for primary school classes to reach 100+ pupils. There is a place to draw the line. And 15 minute visits is where the line must be drawn. 'Care' cannot be delivered in 15 minute portions.
The Government must use the Care and Support Bill to ban 15 minute visits - except where specifically requested by the disabled person, say, to support a daily injection.
It is not 'care' if the care-worker doesn't take their coat off, it's box-ticking.
And since you ask, it takes me a rounded hour minimum from bed to front door, unless I have a second cup of tea...
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