Companions of London

Your care is our care

Thursday 12th of October 2017

Phone Number: 020 3519 8001

Email Address: [email protected]

Choosing Your Home Care

Home care offers a relief to many types of people who struggle with household tasks or personal care. Home care can benefit disabled, elderly or vulnerable adults while they remain living in their own home. But knowing when to begin to ask for help and choosing a home care agency can seem confusing. Here is our guide to choosing home care.

Choosing Your Home Care

How to approach the subject of home care with elderly parents

When you begin to notice that your parents are no longer able to cope by themselves. you may start to consider home care options. You will want to offer this in their best interests. But you may feel as though you are interfering in their lives. You may also be aware of creating conflict if your parents do not agree that they need help at home.

Your elderly parents may be apprehensive about receiving care in the home. It may feel as though they are loosing control of their lives and may fear a loss of independence. After living independently for decades, the appearance of home care services may feel like an intrusion. 

It is common for your parents to feel like care in the home is the first step towards a loss of independence and control of their own lives. Many elderly or vulnerable adults will not want to admit that they do need help from care agencies. For this reason, the subject of home care or assisted living needs to be approached sensitively.

As a home care introductory service, we have often found that home care services are called for after something upsetting has happened. This can be a fall or hospital admittance after an accident in the home. This is often avoidable if the subject of home help is brought up earlier.

We understand that the subject of home care can be a difficult topic to bring up. But you will want to avoid accidents or emergency situations. So it is important to discuss these issues with your elderly parents as soon as you see that they require additional support at home.

One of the best ways to introduce care in the home is to think long term. If you can introduce small changes early on, then your parents can get get used to the idea of assisted living a lot earlier. This way, your parents can develop a relationship with the care agency. This will make it easier to offer more care in the home when it becomes required.

Introducing care in the home

Here are some tips to introducing care in the home for elderly parents:

  • Offer your parents the options available to them. When you think that it is time to call a care agency for your parent, you may find it easier to offer them a solution to a problem. Describe a problem that you have noticed rather than state that you are considering home care. An example of this is noticing that the clothes are not being washed as frequently or that there is not so much fresh food in the house. This allows you to discuss the care options available.
  • Use health as an excuse: When you explain that you are considering home help because of a health problem, it is usually easier to accept. Offering home care as an option to alleviate the problems of bad health can seem less permanent than full time care and support.
  • Choose the right time to talk: Try to bring up the subject of assisted living when your parents are in a reasonable frame of mind. If your parents are worried about something, it may not be a good time to discuss home care agencies.
  • Take one step at a time: A care agency will be able to help you to introduce the idea of home care in easy to manage steps. The carer may offer to come and have a no obligation chat with your parents to discuss their care needs. This is a good way to introduce the idea of home help while putting your parents at ease. Sometimes, the idea of home care can be much worse than when it is actually being provided.

How do I find a domiciliary care company?

If you have a friend or family member who is finding it difficult to cope on their own, it may be time to contact a domiciliary care company. If you are helping a disabled, elderly or vulnerable adult, it is advisable to contact the local authorities first. 

Your disabled friend or elderly family member may be entitled to funding from the government. Your local authority will be required to carry out a free assessment of care needs for anyone who applies.

For some people, you may not be entitled to government funding. If this is the case then you will need to find a private care agency to help with your needs. This will usually seem like a costly burden. For this reason, people often put off asking for home care until they really need it. 

Assisted living and care in the home can make the lives of disabled and vulnerable people a lot easier. So it is important to decide that care is needed and to choose a home care agency carefully.

Word of mouth

Asking friends and family about their experiences with home care agencies can be valuable. If someone has had a good experience with a home care agency, this is more useful to know than any amount of advertising. If you know people who work in the care industry ask them for reccomendations in the local area.

Contact several care agencies

Get in contact with a number of care agencies. Ask them about any concerns that you may have. You should feel comfortable discussing your home care requirements with the agency. Ask about the costs, the ethos and information about their services. Try to arrange a face to face meeting with the people who will be involved in the care of a loved one. This will help you gain an understanding of the agency and how they can provide the assisted living that you require.

Discuss the contract details

You will want to be assured that the care service provided is exactly what you need for your loved one. If at any time you feel as though you are not getting the level of care that you expect then you should feel able to pull out of the contract. You should find out if there is a minimum cancellation period and whether you can change your mind at any time.

What to discuss during a care agency assessment

When you initially meet with the care providers of a home care agency you will be able to discuss your individual requirements. The meeting is a good opportunity for the care agency to get to know you as well as for you to get to know them. 

Any home care assessment is a non obligation meeting. You will need to be confident that the care agency that you meet with are providing the type of care that your loved one will benefit from. If you are not 100% sure then you do not have to go with the care services offered.

During your meeting with a home care agency you should try to get satisfactory answers to the following enquiries:

  • How many staff will be attending to the care of your loved one?
  • What are the exact costs of care? Find out if there are any hidden charges such as assessment or mileage costs.
  • Find out about the ways that the staff are trained. What is the induction process for carers?
  • Ask about whether you will have a key worker.
  • Find out how often you will get care reviews.

What happens if you are unhappy with your home care agency  

If you are paying a home care agency privately you do not have to stay with the service. If you are not happy with the service provided by your home help carer then you can change home care provider. But what do you need to do to bring up a problem?

Get in contact with the home care agency manager. Discuss with them why you are not happy with the services that they are providing. Most home care agencies will be able to address your concerns and promptly offer a solution that suits you.

If the problem is not resolved quickly by the care agency manager then you should put in a written complaint. A domiciliary care company should offer a complaints procedure on their website or on printed materials that they provide. Once you have addressed your problems in a written complaint then you should expect a reply. It is likely that you will get a prompt response from the care agency that will address your concerns.

Remember that you have the right to choose where you spend your money. If the home care company is unable to address the problem that is concerning you then you can get your care services from care agencies somewhere else.

Get in contact with other care agencies if you are not happy with the result of your complaint. Let them know the reason why you wish to change provider. This way you will be able to get the assurance that they can offer an alternative that suits your care needs.

If you receive direct payments towards your care, you can complain to your local authority. Check with your local authority about how to register a complaint.

If you have continuing problems with any care agency you can direct your complaints to the local council, the CQC or the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman.

Making a complaint about the care that you receive can be stressful, so you should try to get support from friends and family. If you require help from an advocate, contact your social services to find out more.

Which type of care is best for me?

When you decide that a loved one requires home care, you will want to find the perfect home help to assist your needs. The main types of care are Informal Care, a Care Agency, Live-in Care and moving into a Care Home. The information below offers a chance to decide which type of care is best for you.

Informal Care

Informal care is care provided by friends, family and community members. This care is provided without being paid for as a professional service.

Advantages
  • Informal Care is a cheaper option than applying for a care agency. This can be helpful if the amount of care is not too demanding 
  • The person receiving home care has more choice about who comes to care for them
  • You can organise a support network in the local community to help you
  • You will feel more involved in the community and receive help from neighbours who can help with jobs that you find too difficult
DisAdvantages
  • You will have no vetting process to check the backgrounds of people helping you. You will be unaware of any criminal records or banned lists
  • You will not have access to holidays or sickness cover
  • Your carer may not be entitled to benefits of holiday pay, sick pay or employment law

Home Care Agency

Home care agencies are public or private organisation that provides professional and skilled care at home (visiting care). This care can be offered to vulnerable, disabled or elderly individuals. The services provided offer help with tasks at home that are no longer able to be completed by the person receiving care. 

Advantages
  • You can receive a responsive and flexible service that is tailored to your individual needs
  • The staff employed by a care agency are fully trained in assisted living and home help services
  • A home care agency will have vetted all workers and carers. This is to check if they have a criminal background or if they have been barred from working with vulnerable adults
  • Care at home through an agency is more cost effective than being admitted to a care home
  • People who live alone often welcome their home care assistant for regular companionship
DisAdvantages
  • Care Agencies will cost more than informal care
  • You may find it hard to know which care agency to choose
  • Some home care agencies require a minimum contract of 28 days
  • There may be hidden costs involved such as mileage charges

Live-in Care

Live-in Care is a valuable alternative to residential care. Someone receiving live in care will have a carer available full time to offer one to one care and support. Because this care is provided in the home it offers a familiar and comfortable surrounding for the person being cared for. This type of full time care works around your routines and evolves to meet your individual needs.

Advantages
  • You will get care 24 hours a day without the need to move into a care home
  • A live-in carer will adapt to your lifestyle and routines
  • Household tasks such as cooking, shopping and medication can be completed by the carer
  • Your family members will be confident that you are safe at all times
  • You will receive one to one care and build a lasting relationship with your carer
  • Your relationship will develop more strongly than with a visiting carer
  • If you have high care needs then live-in care is more cost effective than visiting care
  • The costs are similar to that of a care home
DisAdvantages
  • Live in care costs more than visiting home care
  • It can be difficult to adjust to someone moving into your home initially
  • There are fewer providers of live-in care available than visiting care
  • The carer is under less supervision than at a care home

Care Home

A care home (residential care) offers accommodation for disabled, vulnerable or elderly adults. The individual is located in a residential setting with other residents. Care and assistance are available at all times from professional carers.

Advantages
  • The care home will be responsible for all aspects of the resident's care and life
  • The care home will offer laundry, medication, cooking and personal care
  • Social events are organised for the residents
DisAdvantages
  • Staff are usually low paid and this results in a high turnover of carers
  • There are less staff available over night periods
  • Negative reputation due to news reports
  • More expensive than home care
  • Moving into a care home can be disruptive for individuals
  • Residents will have to adapt their routines to that of the care home

What you should expect from a good home care service 

The care that you receive should depend on what you are able to do and what you wish to be done. The home care that you receive should relate to the options agreed between you and the domiciliary care company.

You should feel comfortable when receiving help at home. You should feel able to communicate your likes or dislikes with your carer. Your care provider will get to understand your wants and needs and adapt your care accordingly. 

When you receive care at home, your carer should respect your cultural and religious views.

If there is any change in staff providing your care, you should be informed beforehand by the care agency.

A home care plan should be provided. This will explain exactly what the agency will do for you and how it will focus on the aspects of care that are important to you. Specific disabilities and health care issues should be taken into account.

Following the first six weeks of care, the agency should review the care plan. During the review, you will be consulted to check that you are happy with the care that you are receiving. Following the initial review, your care plan should be reviewed at least once annually.

Further information