Author Corner: Amanda Waring hits out at 15 minute care visits

According to newspaper reports this week, 15 minute home visits by carers is on the rise. The Leonard Cheshire Disability charity revealed its findings this week that, overall, local councils in England are commissioning 15% more 15-minute care visits than five years ago, with cuts to social budgets being the leading cause as fewer carers are available and required to carry out a larger number of home visits.

Amanda Waring, author of The Heart of Care and long-term campaigner for dignified and compassionate care for the elderly, has added her voice to those deploring the indignity of 15-minute care visits. Read her thoughts below:

“As the government’s Care Bill is debated in the House of Lords today I make a plea alongside the Leonard Cheshire Disability charity to ban the impossibly short home care visits that compromise the safety, independence and dignity of those receiving care. We must not cut our humanity along with our finances. Visits need to be substantially increased to support the mental, physical and emotional needs of others, as well as the self-esteem of carers who are compromised at every turn.

Reduced council funding means local authorities are struggling to meet the rising demand for homecare visits but the apportioning of funds need to be addressed to ensure that those who are disabled or elderly are not left in this woefully inadequate situation, or treated as second class citizens. I quote from Abraham Heschel in my book The Heart of Care:  ‘A test of  a people is how it behaves towards the old. It is easy to love children. Even tyrants and dictators make a point of being fond of children. But the affection and care for the old, the incurable and the helpless are the true goldmines of a culture.’

I shall await the outcome of the debate today with great interest for I have been continuously campaigning for older people’s rights for the past ten years. However outside of any response to the Care Bill there will need to be a sea of change within our society, outside of government policy, for as the population ages more of us will be called upon to care for others.

Caring for another human being is sacred work that should have the preserving of dignity at it’s heart. As a society we will have to accept this challenge, which we can see as a burden or as an opportunity to re- inspire our humanity.”

The Heart of Care, a guide to person-centered, compassionate care is available in paperback and as an e-book. Nursing Standard described it as: “A practical, supportive little book that would be of use to anyone caring for older people… its common-sense approach is refreshing.”

For more information on Amanda Waring and her campaigning work, visit her website.

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