Seven essential tips for selecting the right home care provider.
As the population in the UK continues to age, more and more individuals are facing difficulties in receiving necessary care. According to a recent report by Age UK, approximately 1.6 million people over the age of 65 have unmet care needs, and nearly 40% of older individuals feel they lack adequate support in managing their health conditions. This issue is expected to worsen in the coming years, with projections from the Alzheimer’s Society indicating that the number of people with dementia in the UK could double by 2051.
Some elderly individuals receive extra assistance at home, either from loved ones acting as caregivers or from home care services companies. This could be a temporary arrangement, such as during recovery from a fall or after a hospital stay, or it could be a more permanent solution.
Research has demonstrated that providing care for elderly individuals at their own homes can be equally effective or even more beneficial than hospital care. A study conducted by the University of Oxford in 2021 revealed that hospitalization can potentially lead to acute confusion, decreased mobility, and an increased likelihood of transitioning to residential care. On the other hand, home care offers advantages such as allowing a loved one to remain in a familiar environment, promoting independence, involving family and friends, and being adaptable to changing needs.
Selecting the appropriate home care provider for you and your loved one can be challenging. Diane Dacosta, operations group manager at Home Instead Greenwich and Bexley, offers helpful tips on how to begin the process.
Choose the type of care you require.
The types of in-home care services offered can vary significantly, ranging from companionship and personal care to short-term breaks and round-the-clock care. It is important to consider the level of care your loved one requires and what they can afford. According to Dacosta, some clients may not initially know what they need. For instance, a family member may contact us after visiting over the holidays and realizing their loved one is struggling. Care professionals can assist with tasks such as mobility, hygiene, meal preparation, housekeeping, and transportation to appointments or recreational activities. In some cases, we may begin with a single weekly visit if someone is hesitant about receiving care and gradually increase the frequency.
Certain providers may have visits as brief as 15 minutes, while others, such as Home Instead, require a minimum visit duration of one hour. This is crucial in ensuring enough time is allotted for fulfilling care-related duties within the home, as well as establishing a strong rapport with clients and genuinely addressing their overall needs.
2 Do your research
Before choosing a home care provider, it is recommended to review the inspection reports from the Care Quality Commission and read reviews on Homecare.co.uk. You can also reach out to neighbors or friends for recommendations if they have experience with receiving home care. Once you have a few options, schedule a meeting with the company at your loved one’s home and ask thorough questions. It is important to ensure that the service will meet your loved one’s specific needs and promote their independence and dignity.
Inquire about being matched with a caregiver.
Ensure your loved one is at ease with the individual entering their home by inquiring about the recruitment process for care professionals at your chosen provider. Find out about their qualifications and experience, as well as whether reference and background checks are conducted. Additionally, consider how important it is to you that the care professional shares similar interests with your loved one. According to Dacosta, it is crucial to remember that we are entering a client’s personal space as guests. To facilitate a comfortable environment, we take the time to learn about their interests, preferences, and personalities in order to match them with a suitable care professional and foster a meaningful relationship.
Can you tell me if the service is consistent or adaptable?
As your loved one’s needs evolve, the level of care they require may also change. It is important to inquire about the flexibility of a provider’s services and the steps needed to adjust the number of hours or level of support. It may also be beneficial to understand the procedure for rescheduling or addressing a care professional’s absence, as well as any associated fees for altering the schedule.
5 What about training?
The flexibility of service is closely linked to the necessary training that a care professional must undergo in order to provide varying degrees of support and adjust to a client’s evolving needs. What type of training do they receive prior to starting work and while employed? How many possess a recognized qualification in health and social care? According to Dacosta, all of our care professionals follow career paths and have access to professionally accredited training. We also offer specialized training in areas such as dementia and Parkinson’s, catheter and stoma care, and end of life care.
Consider pricing and contractual agreements.
Providers should be upfront about the costs and policies around billing, cancellations, and any other charges you’ll need to cover, such as travel. Some may be open to a short trial period and provide advice about securing funding help from local authorities. “We always send out a price list to clients,” Dacosta says. “Some of them do direct payments through social services and will top up. Others are funded through the local clinical commissioning group.”
How will the service provider contact you?
Inquire about the methods of communication between providers and a loved one’s family and friends. Also, find out if care professionals will keep records of each visit and if they can be reviewed and discussed. It is important for families to have the ability to check in and keep track of activities in their loved one’s home for their own peace of mind. For instance, Home Instead utilizes a digital care management system and app to schedule calls and monitor visits. This allows families to stay informed even if they are not physically present. As Dacosta suggests, effective communication is crucial.
To learn more about how you or a loved one can maintain a fulfilling life, please visit homeinstead.co.uk/home-care-for-your-family.