Quality statement 4: Length of home care visits

Quality statement

Older people using home care services have visits of at least 30 minutes except when short visits for specific tasks or checks have been agreed as part of a wider package of support.

Rationale

Home care visits should be long enough to ensure that the person's identified outcomes can be achieved in a way that does not compromise their dignity and wellbeing. There is a risk that visits of less than 30 minutes will be rushed and not meet the person's needs, and could compromise safety and dignity. The need to include short visits in a person's care package should therefore be carefully considered and agreed in advance with the older person.

Quality measures

Structure

Evidence of local processes to ensure that older people using home care services have visits of at least 30 minutes except when short visits for specific tasks or checks have been agreed as part of a wider package of support.

Data source: Local data collection.

Process

a) Proportion of home care visits to older people lasting 30 minutes or longer.

Numerator – the number in the denominator lasting 30 minutes or longer.

Denominator – the number of home care visits to older people.

Data source: Local data collection.

b) Proportion of home care visits to older people of less than 30 minutes with a prior agreement that a shorter visit is acceptable.

Numerator – the number in the denominator with a prior agreement that a shorter visit of less than 30 minutes is acceptable.

Denominator – the number of home care visits to older people that are less than 30 minutes.

Data source: Local data collection.

Outcome

a) Older people's satisfaction with the length of home care visits.

Data source: Local data collection.

b) Older people's perception of the way they are helped or treated.

Data source: Local data collection. The Health and Social Care Information Centre's Personal social services adult social care survey includes a question on how the way they are helped or treated makes people who use services feel about themselves.

What the quality statement means for service providers, social care practitioners and commissioners

Service providers (such as independent home care agencies, voluntary sector organisations, and local authorities) ensure that older people using home care services have visits of at least 30 minutes except when short visits for specific tasks or checks have been agreed as part of a wider package of support.

Social care practitioners (such as home care workers and personal assistants) provide home care visits of at least 30 minutes unless the older person has agreed in advance that some shorter visits for specific tasks or checks can meet their needs.

Commissioners (for example local authorities and clinical commissioning groups) commission services that ensure that older people using home care services have visits of at least 30 minutes except when short visits for specific tasks or checks have been agreed as part of a wider package of support. Commissioners should require exception reporting for any visits that are less than 30 minutes and have not been agreed previously.

What the quality statement means for people using home care services and carers

Older people who use home care services have home care visits of at least 30 minutes unless they, and their family members or carers, have agreed in advance that some shorter visits for specific tasks or checks can meet their needs.

Source guidance

Definitions of terms used in this quality statement

Short visits for specific tasks or checks

Home care visits shorter than half an hour should only be made if:

  • the home care worker is known to the person, and

  • the visit is part of a wider package of support, and

  • it allows enough time to complete specific, time limited tasks or to check if someone is safe and well.

[Home care: delivering personal care and practical support to older people living in their own homes (NICE guideline NG21), recommendation 1.4.2]

Equality and diversity considerations

People with cognitive impairments, communication difficulties or sensory loss may need home care workers to spend more time with them to ensure effective communication and to ensure the person can be fully included in their care. This could include needing more time to help them eat and drink. Individual needs should be carefully considered before it is agreed that home care visits of less than 30 minutes are suitable for people in these groups.