A guide for getting started with care
Are you worried about finding care for yourself or a loved one? Here we have put together an easy guide to help you navigate the challenges around getting more support in your everyday life. So you can feel confident making the right choice.
We have personal experience ourselves of sourcing care for our loved ones and have journeyed with many families along the way, we want to use this expertise, knowledge and skills that we have gained to support you. We hope this helps you to navigate these times and allows you to get a clearer idea of the next step; helping you to continue living the life you want.
At certain stages of life tasks can sometimes become more difficult to complete without the support of another. We understand that many people see it as a sign of weakness to ask for help or don’t want to bother anyone else. Or simply don’t feel like they are at the stage of needing support. We know that the word care can be fraught with emotions and sometimes even the thought of care can seem like giving up…paradoxically having someone support at home can promote independence for much longer. And many people enjoy having a new relationship with someone who is there to support and help.
We are convinced that people can continue to live at home independently and happily and we hope this information will make it much less daunting and give you a few pointers for finding great quality care.
Know what you need from a care company
What you might like help with
Before contacting a care company consider the following. Think about those times in the day that take a bit longer, or that you might not do as thoroughly as you previously did. Consider the key tasks that you need to keep healthy and active. Have you skipped on some of them? Have you battled on without realising you are not living as well as you might?
It’s a good idea to make a note of the tasks that you struggle with, then you can refer to these and they can become your list where you could have some support. Some people have support with some of the following:
· Getting fully washed
· Getting dressed
· Preparing food
· Cooking meals
· Keeping on top of medication
· Taking the dog for regular walks, looking after pets
· Light cleaning and household duties
· Gardening tasks
It can be hard to ask for support, especially if you want to carry on doing things for yourself. Remember, you should always be the one to decide what you do and don’t need help with. Be honest with yourself and think about those things that would make life easier with another pair of hands.
Different types of care services
There are a few different types of services that care companies and individuals offer. You can decide if you would like a little bit of help at home throughout the week, if you would like someone with you all the time at home or if you would prefer to move into a residential home.
Care at Home
A popular choice for those who want regular support throughout the week. This is for an agreed amount of time that suits you and the tasks that you have identified. This type of support is referred to as domiciliary care, visiting care or care support. You can find your own private carer or you can use a company to provide you with a small team of regular carers to visit you at agreed times of the day.
Live-in Care at Home
Perhaps you need a companion with you a bit more permanently and would like the reassurance of someone staying with you during the day and night. This type of service is referred to a live-in care or live in support. You have the reassurance of one person living with you continually, they get to know your routine and can slot in each day as you choose. This can range from one person living in full time to a couple of carers who rotate every couple of weeks. During COVID it was seen as the safest level of care. This can be arrnaged privately or through a company.
This is another option that is chosen particularly when someone prefers to be with others and likes the structure and sociable aspect that residential care brings. It is also an option for many who have a high level of needs to be met. Residential care supports people who need help with daily tasks such as washing, dressing or eating, but many do not cater for nursing care needs.
Nursing care offers residential care but is more equipped to look after people with complex needs requiring regular treatment from registered nurses.
Once you are clear on the type of care that you are looking for and the types of tasks that you want, you can find that support.
Find the best care company for you
If you are keen to remain in your own home and you want extra support in order to do so we recommend the following places to find people who can help you.
Ask your family, friends and neighbours who they would recommend. Word of mouth goes a long way and this is often the best place to start.
2. Home care website
Follow up recommendations or start here with this website www.homecare.co.uk if you don't have any recommendations. They list care companies in your area and provide a profile for each one based on client reviews. It is a really useful website to get more information about the companies, read first hand from people who have used the services and get the contact details to get in touch.
3. Council Directory
Many councils have their own directories, for example in Herefordshire you can use The Herefordshire Directory of Registered Domiciliary Care Providers 2021-2022. Check out your council provider here.
4. NHS Choice
The NHS also has information NHS Choices – local homecare services and agencies directory.
If you would like to move into a residential or nursing home we recommend the following website www.carehome.co.uk as a good starting point if you don't have any other recommendations from friends and family. Carehome it is built on client reviews and you can find information on local residential care homes in your area, the sorts of services they offer and testimonies from customers.
Tips for getting the best care at home for you
Before you contact a care company
Before you contact a care company or a private carer it could be good to consider the following so you are really clear in advance.
Consider the tasks that you would want support with and have that list ready (see details above)
Think through how much contact you want the carer to have with your family and friends. What about your routines? Your pets? Your hobbies and any socialising? Would you like help to continue with any of those?
Think about the qualities that you'd like in the person to help you. We all have preferences and you can make these preferences known.
Make a call to a carer or company
When you are ready, it is a good idea to make some phone calls to get a feel for the person you initially speak with on the phone. If you are happy, arrange for a meeting. It is always worth booking meetings with a couple of different organisations. They all offer something slightly different, you should get a good feeling about which one will fit with you the best. You will know who to go with so trust your instincts. Have a look at their website, read the reviews, this too will give you more information.
During the meeting ask as many questions as you like so that you are reassured and know what the next steps are. Some questions to maybe consider asking:
What sort of training have the carers had?
Can the carer accompany you to church or a social group, can they accompany you to your hairdressers?
Do they provide any other services that you might like to make use of?
How flexible is the service? Can you cancel at anytime?
Is there a trial period?
What if you don't get on with the carer?
What sort of support should you expect from their office?
Find out what paperwork is involved and do take your time in reading through everything and don’t feel obliged to sign it until you are ready. If at anytime you have questions, call the company and talk things through.
In the early days of care support
In the early days the care company should clearly explain how they will set things up with you and what you should expect from their office and their carers. You should feel comfortable and happy knowing that your care is in professional hands.
Your carer of care manager should set up a support plan with you, outlining the task that you would like support with, and how you would like that to be carried out. This document should be shared with you and you should have the opportunity to make changes and update it throughout your care. It can be a hardcopy or in digital format and is there a a guide and as a record. The document belongs to the care company and needs to be audited by the CQC an external body for quality and control within the care sector.
What great quality homecare should look like
Great homecare should provide you with individual, consistent, and top quality care that you can change and adapt as you want.
Your care should be bespoke and tailored exactly to you, this means that values which are important to you should be taken into consideration. The initial meeting you have should really give you confidence that you are being listened to and the respected and treated individually. And once you start having support this should be central to everything the carers and wider office staff do. Your support should encourage you to actively participate; the care assistances shouldn’t be taking over your independence. So, make sure that you are always included fully. You are paying for a service that you choose, and you are the expert on your care needs.
Your care should be consistent. So you should have regular carers that you know and you like supporting you at the times that suit you. If you require your care to start quickly you might have to be flexible in the short term, and timings may not be completely ideal, but you should expect regular, consistent care once things settle. There should be room to make changes at any time and there should be a reasonable amount of flexibility that you have been made aware of.
Great practice should be transparent
Good care agencies, private carers and care homes will be open and honest about what they can provide and how soon you should expect care to start. They should be good at letting you know of any changes and be clear communicating with you. They should give you the chance to feedback and listen to what you have to say. They should provide you with clear terms and conditions.
How much care at home will cost will depend on a number of factors including where you live, the level of support you need and the amount of time you want carers to support you. You can find more details on financing care in our "Cost of Live-in Care" article and "How much is Kemble PA" article with some helpful comparisons for care service and advice on getting financial assistance.
Who’s who? Additional professionals who can be supportive in your care at home
There are many other teams that can be involved with care and here is a run-down of who’s who and a brief overview into how they might support you. This is particularly helpful in the early days if you have not needed their services before. It is worth noting that theses services are often stretched and may not always be as joined up as they hope to be, so you might have to explain your situation several times. It is best to keep asking for what you want, don’t be afraid to ring and follow things up.
We have put together contact details for Herefordshire for many of the groups below
If you need mobility equipment then it is best to contact the Occupational Therapy Team (commonly known as OTs) OTs are often the first people to make an assessment if you have come home from hospital and need more support with getting around your house. They assess you and can fit you for any hoists and moving aids that you might need temporarily before getting back on your feet. They will also check that you can safely use the toilet and bath or shower. This NHS team can provide you with all sorts of aids and equipment and provide them free. Anything from cups, chairs, beds, rails, commodes, tin openers, medicine dispensers and bath chairs as well as plenty of other specialised equipment. It is worth noting that if you do need equipment or have become more unsteady on your feet and you would like your carer to help with this, all equipment must first be approved by an OT. So they are key in getting things set up quickly and safely.
If you require help with improving mobility then Physiotherapists (commonly known as physios) will help with assessing your needs and creating bespoke exercises for you. Carers can often support you with these exercises. Physios often work hand in hand with OTs and can be helpful especially after a time in hospital or a sickness that have left you a bit weaker.
Bladder and Bowel Health Service
For issues with continence, an assessment can be arranged with the Bladder & Bowel Health Service. Incontinence pads can be provided after an assessment although there is usually a limit of 3 incontinence pads per day.
Speech and Language Therapy Service
Where someone struggles with eating, drinking or swallowing, the Speech & Language Therapy Services can help. They can assess and make suggestions for keeping you safe and can ensure your support plan is appropriate and safe.
District Nurses can help with nursing needs at home and will come to visit regularly and when required. They can do a number of tasks such as change bandages daily, check catheters and other medical support. Good care companies will work very closely with district nurses and will contact them with regular updates and arrange meetings at the request of the client.
Home First can help short term following discharge from hospital. They are a team of carers that everyone is entitled to when they come home from hospital and need support. The website gives further details for support you can get.
Planning ahead for longer term care and special requirements
It can be really helpful to consider your future care needs when you start to seek out care. Considering worst case scenarios, losing capacity or further mobility, how you want care towards the end of your life; these are uncomfortable topics for most of us. Careful consideration, thinking them through at the beginning of seeking care and setting things in place however, can also bring reassurance and peace of mind.
Kemble at Home aims to provide practical support in a respectful and kind way so that people can remain in their homes; and be safer, happier and more comfortable at home.
Please contact us if you would like to talk through your options and want further guidance on getting care set up for you or your loved one.