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Getting the best homecare for you or your loved ones

Posted on 05/12/2016

More elderly people than ever are choosing to use homecare to deliver their care and support needs, rather than residential care. Homecare has many advantages, enabling people to stay at home in familiar surroundings, to remain independent and to have more control over the care that they receive.

However, there have been recent news stories that highlight some problems associated with homecare at present. The Guardian reports that complaints about care provided in people’s homes rose by a quarter in the last year, with common problems including care staff running late or not turning up at all, staying for only a short time, and cancelling visits without appropriate notice. Other problems included poor record-keeping and visits from multiple different carers, leading to a lack of continuity.

However, many of these complaints made to the local government ombudsman (LGO) relate to homecare provided by local councils, usually through agencies. Homecare providers face staff shortages and the introduction of the National Living Wage, alongside too-small council subsidies for Local Authority-funded service users.

Another issue, which has just been released in a statement by Alzheimer’s Society, is a lack of specific training to deal with dementia. In an investigation by the charity, it was found that only 2% of people with dementia say homecare workers have enough specific training. It calls on the government to implement more dementia training for homecare workers to help combat the current failures.

With these kinds of stories doing the rounds, it’s only natural to feel nervous about finding the right homecare for a loved one. However, it’s important to remember that these cases, while shocking in isolation, only represent a small proportion of all the people that currently receive care at home.

If your loved one’s care is being funded by the local authority, the council may keep a list of approved homecare providers. They can appoint an agency on the person’s behalf and pay them directly, or they can pay your loved one directly through a Personal Budget. Receiving a Personal Budget gives you more choice when it comes to choosing care, as long as it meets the needs outlined in the care plan and is agreed with the local authority as an appropriate way to spend the money. 

Both self-payers and those receiving a Personal Budget have the right to choose who will care for them, and as a family member, you should be involved in this decision to get the very best homecare for your loved one. A Paid Carer can be supplied through an agency, so it is worth researching the businesses in your area, speaking to their clients or clients’ families if you can, to get a feel for the company. Word of mouth is usually a good way to find an agency that delivers high-quality care.

If you want the most control over the homecare that your loved one receives, however, then it is worth contracting with or employing your own Paid Carer. Some Paid Carers run their own business and work in a self-employed capacity, while you can also employ a Paid Carer yourself to work for you. Either way, you can draw up a contract with your Paid Carer and determine specifically what tasks you would like them to do. You can interview and research Paid Carers in your local community to find one that has relevant experience, good reviews from previous clients, and able to meet your requirements in terms of times and days. A self-employed Paid Carer has a reputation to uphold, and so it’s not in their best interests to be late or not provide the best service. An employed Paid Carer is under contract to you and therefore needs to meet the terms of that contract.

As well as giving you control over services and hours, you can also ensure the same carer will turn up at all times, as you are only contracting with or employing one person, which helps with continuity of care.

Find out more about how you can employ your own Paid Carer, and get the best service possible for your loved one in our dedicated article, ‘How to employ a paid carer’. 

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