Care report: 15 minutes can be enough
Friday 4 October 2013

Directors of adult social services have argued that in some cases, 15-minute visits to older people at home are `fully justified, and fully adequate. But they have sympathised with all older and/or disabled people who have been inappropriately given too little time in order to have their care needs properly met.

According to ADASS President Sandie Keene: We must never be complacent. Directors will acknowledge that sometimes time-allocation is insufficient; that sometimes private care providers and local government commissioners underestimate the time needed to carry out certain tasks. And where that happens, adjustments really have to be made.

But, she went on: it is totally wrong to believe that all tasks need more than 15 minutes to carry out. And frankly naïve to believe that simply by abolishing 15-minute slots a magic wand will have been waved, and improvements automatically achieved in our care services. It doesnt work like that.

Mrs Keene was responding to a report from Leonard Cheshire, published today which argues that all care should be delivered in at least 30-minute units of time.

A survey of adult social care procurement practice carried out by ADASS last year shows that:

* 51% of councils commission home care by 15 minute visits, 19% by minute intervals, 15% by units of 30 minutes and 14% by units of 1 hour. However 15 minute visits only proportionately represents 16% of all home care visits procured by councils.

*Of the councils commissioning 15 minute calls, 88% use these visits to administer medication and 80% for checking up on the individual. Only 8% of those councils which commission 15 minute visits use these visits to undertake washing or bathing tasks.

Mrs Keene went on to point to the deteriorating financial circumstances local authorities and adult care have faced during the past three years while despite ongoing talks about transferring significant sums from the NHS to adult care   overall ASC budgets have been reduced by nearly £800 million in the current financial year.

It is of great credit to our departments, our members, and their staff that provisional figures for 2013 issued by the Department of Health show that, despite the savings we have had to make, user-satisfaction with their care services is high, and getting higher. As personalisation and personal budgets become ever more common within social care, more and more will individuals be able to decide themselves, or with help and advice from social workers, how many visits of what duration they need, she said.


For further information contact:
Sandie Keene, ADASS President, 01332 478700
Drew Clode, ADASS Media/Policy Adviser, 020 8348 5023/07976 837755

Editorial Notes

The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS) represents directors and senior managers of adult social services departments in English local authorities. Directors (DASSs) have statutory responsibilities for the social care of older people, adults with disabilities and adults with mental health needs.

In many authorities ADASS members will also share a number of responsibilities for the provision and/or commissioning of housing, leisure, libraries, culture, and community safety on behalf of their councils. More than a third of DASSs are also the statutory director of childrens services for their authority.

A personal budget is a clear, upfront amount of funding from adult social care which individuals can spend on the services and support they need to help them live more independently. It can be used to buy services from both the council and other providers, mixing and matching whats available from different organisations.

Anyone aged 18 or over who is eligible for social care support can have a personal budget - but it is down to individuals whether they manage their budget themselves or whether someone else does this on their behalf.


(For full details of the 2013 satisfaction survey go to

28 per cent of respondents reported their quality of life was so good, it could not be better, or very good (up 1 percentage point from 2011-12). 31 per cent reported it was good (the same as 2011-12) and 30 per cent reported it was alright down one per cent from the previous year. However, 7 per cent reported their quality of life was bad, and the remaining 3 per cent reported their quality of their life was very bad or so bad, it could not be worse, both of which are unchanged from 2011-12.

The average score for the Social care-related quality of life was 18.8 (compared to 18.7 in 2011-12) out of a maximum possible score of 24. This is a composite measure calculated using a combination of questions which cover 8 different outcome domains relating to quality of life.

64 per cent of service users who responded said they were extremely or very satisfied with the care and support services they receive (up from 63 per cent in 2011-12) and 26 per cent said they were quite satisfied, down 1 per cent from 2011-12). However, 6 per cent said they were neither satisfied nor dissatisfied, and the remaining 4 per cent said they were dissatisfied, both of these figures are unchanged from the previous year.

32 per cent reported they have as much control as they want over their daily life (up 2 per cent from 2011-12) and 44 per cent reported they have adequate control (down one per cent from 2011-12). 20 per cent reported they have some control but not enough, and 5 per cent reported they have no control; both these figures are the same as 2011-12.

67,755 out of a sample of 173,630 recipients of care and social care services responded to the survey, which is a response rate of 39 per cent (down 1 percentage point from 2011-12). However, both the number of respondents and sample size are greater than in 2011-12 (65,600 and 164,300 respectively).