By Debbie le Quesne

Universal assessment tool needed for home calls

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Fifteen minute calls and the arguments around them are still hitting the headlines weeks after charity Leonard Cheshire Disability reported that 60 per cent of councils in England are using the practice.

Barry Sweetbaum is managing director of SweetTree Home Care Services and addressed the matter in an interesting article in The Guardian online’s Social Care Network.

He argues that banning the 15-minute slots is not the answer, suggesting that: “ A culture of universal assessment is needed, with complete transparency as to how visit times are calculated, to ensure there is a much better match between a service user’s needs and the resources allocated to support them.

“Creating a universal assessment system which is rational, transparent and equal across society provides the opportunity to have an open, honest debate about the system, structures and the allocation of resources.

“Even if services are underfunded, as long as the system follows the principles of transparency, rationality and equality it will be better accepted.”

Mr Sweetbaum notes too that “we must remember, one size does not fit all when it comes to care.”

He adds: “If you are going to create a system that reflects individual needs then doing something as blunt and impersonal as defining global minimum visit times is the wrong answer. People in need of care and who live at home have differing needs throughout the day. If longer visit times are universally set, this will not recognise the importance of individual circumstances.”

I can see how this argument is driven and I agree a national assessment frame would be great. Whether it would sweeten the bitter pill of underfunding, I doubt.

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