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New report outlines necessary home care improvements. What are the takeaways for self-employed paid carers?

Posted on 28/08/2017

Care planning, relevant skills, consistency and communication are the four main areas where home care services require improvement, according to a new report looking at the delivery of home care in England. For those looking at setting up a new care business, there are lessons to be learned that could help to ensure the success of a community-based venture.  

Healthwatch, an “independent national champion for people who use health and social care services”, has recently released its latest report entitled ‘Home care services: What people told Healthwatch about their experiences’. The report is an analysis of the experiences of almost 3,500 service users, their families and front-line staff across 52 local areas between August 2015 and June 2017. It gives a balanced view of the kind of home care services that people are currently receiving and where improvements could be made.  

Home care is increasingly becoming the first choice for older people, as they are able to stay in their own homes and retain more independence in daily life. Home care also offers choice in the kind of care and support received, with a number of providers to choose from. Healthwatch says that there are more than 8,500 home care providers helping around 673,000 people to receive care at home.

These reports provide a valuable insight into service user experience, and for those looking at setting up their own care business, it can help to ensure that services are being provided that meet the needs of the community.  

There are a number of key themes that stood out in the report, as identified by Healthwatch. For a start, care planning is highlighted as an area that needs improvement. This includes setting realistic care expectations and making regular updates. While the Care Act determines that care plans should be reviewed no later than every 12 months, this isn’t always enough when some service users’ condition deteriorates faster and an adapted care plan is needed more frequently. Care workers are shown to not always have knowledge of a client’s care plan before a visit, particularly a first visit, which could potentially lead to problems such as missed medication.

For self-employed paid carers, it’s important to understand how care planning works and how to best review a care plan to ensure that needs are being met. It’s also important to set aside enough time to ensure that tasks within a care plan can be completed, as home care workers working for an agency say that there is not enough time allocated to meet all of the requirements of some care plans. Our Support Planning Booklet can help to put together a care plan, while our online Care Needs Helper can help identify needs when first meeting a client.

Another area that is flagged up in the Healthwatch report is the skills and qualifications of home care workers. There is a shortage of home care workers in England, which can lead to taking on new workers without experience of the roles, but ensuring that all care workers understand the basic needs of service users and are equipped to deal with home care tasks should be a priority for service providers. Self-employed paid carers should invest in personal development by undergoing relevant training to be able to offer a wide range of services.

Next is choice and consistency. Choice is improving, although those service users who receive council funding may find that they are more limited in the care providers that they can select from. However, the report identifies the importance in enabling people to make decisions about the care that they receive to feel more in control of their care situation. It’s also important that people have consistency in the carers that visit their home – which isn’t always possible with home care agencies. For self-employed paid carers, consistency is guaranteed and services can be more tailored to meet individual needs.

Finally, service users’ feedback needs to be taken on board by all home care providers, and issues dealt with instantly to avoid small problems becoming larger complaints. If you are running your own small care business, make sure that you have a complaints policy in place and that your clients know how to feedback their thoughts so that you can stay on top of any concerns.

Read the full Healthwatch report

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