VULNERABLE and elderly people are routinely being given less than 15 minutes of care by Scotland’s largest home care firm.

Cordia staff say the company is putting “cash before care” and insist people are not getting the services they are entitled to.

Since April, representatives from trade union Unison have received calls from staff concerned about the number of 15 minute appointments being scheduled for clients.

The timing coincides with the company-wide roll out of mobile phones which can track employee’s movements and how long they take to complete visits.

Staff at the firm, an arms’ length company of Glasgow City Council, say they cannot complete their allocated tasks within the 15 minute slot, which includes travel to and from different homes.

The union agreed with Cordia chiefs that 15 minute appointments could be used only for medication prompts when the client is near the previous appointment.

In practice, staff say the agreement is being ignored and they are having to do more than just medication.

Figures seen by the Evening Times show that between April and August this year, around 417,000 home care visits were 15 minutes or less – 22 per cent of the total.

On 70,300 occasions (3.7 per cent of the time), staff had one task to do for the client not involving medication, for example making them a meal or helping them get dressed.

Around 180,000 times (9 per cent of visits) carers had to check medication had been taken and do another task, while 83,000 times (4 per cent of the total) two tasks were required to be done – neither of which involved medication.

One carer said: “I have worked for 14 years as a home carer and this is just the worst its ever been.

“Clients are not getting the care they deserve and need because we are being told we only have 15 minutes to see them.

“It’s putting cash before care.”

Another home carer, with 16 years experience, said: “I am switching on my phone and seeing I have 4 15-minute appointments in an hour, including travelling time.

“If I turn up to a house and Mrs Smith, for example, says oh could you make me some toast, I can’t turn round and say no, it’s not on my list and I have to go.

“I might be the only person Mrs Smith sees all day, and I can’t do that.

“What is happening is emotional blackmail.

“We are all ending up running well over our time because we are having to spend longer with clients than allocated, to make sure everything is done properly and they are alright.

“It’s unacceptable and has to stop.”

One carer described her regular tasks during a 15 minute appointment.

She said: “I have to do a stoma bag, then a breakfast, wash her dishes and take her bin out and then I have to travel 10-11 minutes to the next person”

She said: “It’s beyond a joke. There is no way people can do it and there is no travelling time.

“The service users are getting it, it’s just an absolute outrage.

“Every day I’m battling with them telling them to stop doing it, stop putting people down for 15 minutes. But the next day I switch on my phone and its there again.”

A Unison Glasgow Branch spokeswoman argues that no clients have been assessed for their suitability for a 15 minute appointment by social work, and the current situation is a “disaster”

She said “Unison believes this is unacceptable from both a care perspective and workload capacity aspect.

“Some of the most vulnerable people in Glasgow are not getting the time they have been assessed as requiring by the social work fieldworker.

“No service user has a fifteen minute visit in their care plan.

“This affects quality of care. Older people in our city deserve better.

“Home care workers are being given unrealistic work schedules, are being overworked and many feel bullied by Cordia Management.

“Cordia’s cack-handed approach in recent years to reforming working arrangements and shift patterns has not helped.

“The solution of course is to employ more home carers and revisit the changes to working arrangements.”

A Cordia spokesman said: “Our home carers undertake all tasks required during each visit.

“In the event a service user needs more care during a visit, this is provided no matter how long it takes.

“The care package of every service user is reviewed at least annually, but they or their family can request a change to their plan at any time.”