When we don’t have the time of day in Wales

Mary van den Heuvel questions whether 15 minutes is enough for older and disabled people to get ready in the morning

Getting out of bed at 7.00am seemed like the worst thing in the world when I was 14. I would leave it until the last second. But that was my choice. Could you get ready to face the day in 15 minutes?

In today’s Wales many older and disabled people are having to make a choice between things like getting something to drink and going to the loo – and that’s if they’re lucky. New figures show 83 per cent of local authorities in Wales currently commission 15 minute care visits.

Leonard Cheshire Disability asked people in Wales how long they take to do the following tasks – ones you’d expect to do every morning [2]:

  • Make a cup of tea – 3.57 minutes
  • Prepare a meal – 13.89 minutes
  • Go to the toilet – 3.82 minutes
  • Get dressed – 4.57 minutes
  • Wash yourself – 7.19 minutes
  • Make the bed – 4.31 minutes

So, in total it takes Welsh people at least 37 minutes 21 seconds to do all six activities, and at least 15 minutes 35 seconds to do the three most important ones – that is to say, go to the toilet, wash yourself and get dressed.

Add into the mix that someone is helping you to do these tasks, and that they might not be familiar with you and your house, and it is no surprise that three quarters (76 per cent) of our respondents felt that 15-minute care visits deprive disabled and older people of their dignity.

In fact, 94 per cent of respondents thought disabled or older people have the right to receive social care visits which allow enough time for care workers to give the appropriate support to do everyday things – clearly 15 minutes is not enough time to do this.

Today sees the Stage One debate of the Social Services and Well-being (Wales) Bill in the National Assembly. AMs will be voting to say whether or not they support the general principles of the Bill. All along the Deputy Minister has said this Bill is about giving “voice and control” to people who have to use social care in Wales. I see this Bill as an opportunity to ensure that commissioning is of high quality services. By definition these should exclude 15 minute personal care at home visits being the norm.

There are instances when people will chose to have a fifteen minute visit, perhaps for help with medication – and that, of course, is up to them. Yet nine out of ten (90 per cent) of people we asked in Wales thought government should do more to make sure that disabled or elderly people get the support they need to do everyday things like wash, dress and get out of bed in the morning.

With so many local authorities commissioning 15 minute care at home visits this won’t happen.

And even when I was 14, I could only get ready in 15 minutes if I cheated – if I’d had my shower the night before, my uniform was laid out on the back of my bedroom chair, and my dad presented me with a cup of tea and two slices of Marmite on toast when I hit the kitchen, bleary eyed with teenage lethargy. And I really couldn’t achieve anything presentable in 15 minutes, even then.


[2]  Figures from 95 Welsh respondents from a ComRes poll of 2025 British adults, conducted September 2013.

Mary van den Heuvel is Policy and Assembly Officer with Leonard Cheshire Disability Cymru

Comments are closed.

Also within Politics and Policy