Age, illness and injuries can make it difficult to get out and about, manage the house and cope with daily routines like washing, dressing and preparing food. For people who don’t want to move into a care home, private home care can help with chores and offer the support needed to live safely in the home that they love.
What is private home care?
Private home care is personal support provided in the comfort of your own home. It may also be described as domiciliary care or home help. A professional carer can come into the home to provide practical assistance with everyday tasks like washing, cleaning and shopping and supportive care with the activities of daily living like bathing and toileting. Private home care can support independent living and make an enormous difference to quality of life.
How much home care can be provided?
Home care is very flexible and can be tailored to individual needs. It can be provided on an hourly basis or around-the-clock. Many people may need a carer to provide home help or personal assistance for an hour or two a week, others may benefit from people popping in several times a day to oversee medication, help with getting in and out of bed and preparing meals.
If a loved one is unable to live safely without support and supervision, they might need a carer to help them day and night. Live-in carers can offer care and supervision to maintain safety twenty-four hours a day.
Private home care can be temporary, while someone recovers from an operation, accident or illness. Home care can also be a long-term alternative to moving to a residential facility like a care home. Specialist carers can support people with complex health needs including incontinence, stomas, catheters and tube feeding.
What are the signs that home care is needed?
When someone is used to living and managing independently, it can be difficult to ask for help. Dementia, frailty and decreased function can gradually develop and many people are too proud or embarrassed to admit that they are struggling with daily activities. There are clues that they are finding home life a challenge and that their safety may be at risk:
- Accident prone: Burned-out pans, taps left running or an unlocked front door could all indicate that someone is finding it difficult to cope. Near-misses could turn into significant accidents – help may be needed to maintain their safety.
- Falls: Falling is a big problem in the elderly. A third of people over the age of sixty–five fall every year, potentially leading to head injuries, bruises and broken bones. Fall also have an impact on confidence, decreasing mobility and leading to social isolation.
- Loneliness: Poor mobility, illness and the loss of a partner can make it difficult to stay social. More than a million elderly people say they feel lonely, which can have a big effect on health and wellbeing.
- Struggles with self-care: Bathing, grooming and dressing require a number of complex skills. If a loved one is looking dirty, disheveled or wrongly dressed they may be finding it difficult to care for themselves.
- Memory loss: If your loved one is confused or forgetful, they may not remember to take medication and be at risk of household accidents. Memory loss is not inevitable with increasing age, so it’s important to consider dementia . There’s no cure for the condition, but medical help may slow its progress. Make an appointment with their GP and think about contacting hometouch for care and expert support with maintaining brain health.
- Not eating or drinking: Cooking, shopping and eating take time, energy and complex skills. If the food in the fridge is out-of-date, the kitchen is dirty or your loved one is losing weight, they may need help.
- Wandering: As dementia develops, people can become restless, confused and at risk of wandering. Leaving the home can be stressful for the family and put your loved one in danger of falls, road traffic accidents and injury.
How to find private home care
There are a number of different ways of accessing and employing private home carers. You could search for an independent carer, use a care agency or an introductory service. Each method has pros and cons, the right way for your family will depend on your budget and the level of control and ongoing responsibility you want.
Private independent care
Carers can be found through private adverts, word of mouth, or in the small ads online or in the local press. This direct approach can be cheap, simple and flexible. The family will have control to choose the carer, write the job description and set the times they work. However you will also be responsible for checking their references, criminal record and their qualifications.
As the carer’s employer you have legal and financial responsibilities. You will need to provide a contract, pay National Insurance and take out liability insurance. You may also need to pay for sickness leave and provide a pension. If your carer is unwell or on holiday, you will need to find alternative cover.
Private home care agency
A fully-managed home care service can reduce the stress of finding home care support. The agency will assess your loved one’s needs, provide a care plan and monitor quality of care. They will perform rigorous safety checks, including police searches and following up references and deal with contracts, salaries and insurance.
If a carer is ill or away the agency will provide alternative cover. This comprehensive service can be a little more expensive, however this is balanced against the reassurance they offer and the security of monitoring by the Care Quality Commission.
hometouch offers a fully-managed Regulated Care service for people needing from twenty hours of care per week to around-the-clock live-in care. It is a clinical care service with in-house nursing and dementia specialist expertise and experienced care professionals.
Introductory agencies are a way to find and employ self-employed carers. You choose the carer, with the reassurance that the agency has carried out important police checks and followed up references and qualifications. The agency sorts out paperwork and contracts, decreasing the responsibility and administrative burden for family.
hometouch offers an award-winning Introductory Care service. It provides families with choice, transparency and control over their care. The carers are freelancers, so there is no need to pay National Insurance, making the care more affordable. hometouch will arrange care cover if a carer is away due to sickness or holiday.