Scots councils urged to ditch ‘care on the cheap’ 15 minute home visits

Date: Thursday 1 August 2013

UNISON Scotland today hit out at Scottish councils over commissioning 15 minute home care visits to elderly and vulnerable people.

A Freedom of Information request shows that 28 Scottish councils commission such short visits.

UNISON wants the UK and Scottish governments to ban 15 minute care slots and is urging councils to sign up to the union’s Ethical  Home Care Charter.

Scottish Secretary Mike Kirby said: “Austerity cuts are piling pressure onto an overstretched system but it is entirely wrong that in a supposedly civilised society councils are commissioning 15 minute home care appointments.

“Any member of the public can understand that 15 minutes is not enough to provide even the most basic care, let alone to very frail clients. People with dementia also find the rush of such short visits particularly distressing.

“We want councils to sign up to our Ethical Home Care Charter and to say that the time allocated to visits will be matched to the needs of the clients. There should be an initial review of all visits under 30 minutes.

“UNISON believes that 15 minute visits exemplify a care on the cheap system, when we should be providing quality public services which ensure respect and dignity for the most vulnerable.”


For information please contact:
Mike Kirby, Scottish Secretary, 07939 143355
Fiona Montgomery, Communications Officer, 0141 342 2877 or 07508 877000
Malcolm Burns, Communications Officer,  07876 556978

Notes to editors:

1.       UNISON is Scotland’s largest trade union representing 160,000 members working in the public sector in Scotland.

2.       In the UK government’s own words, 15 minute home care appointments ‘risk stripping people of their dignity and jeopardising their human rights.’

3.       While three Scottish councils do not commission 15 minute visits (Angus, Falkirk and Glasgow City Council), the constraints of the contract price can still mean that is what happens in practice. (The FOI requests to councils did not cover Highland, as the integrated service comes under the health service.)

4.        The UNISON Ethical Social Care Charter is online at