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Home care: how does it work?

Home care works in many different ways. Each person’s case is different with unique preferences, physical needs and life experiences, and care at home should be as tailored as possible to the individual’s requirements.

Initial steps

When you first decide to investigate the possibility of live-in care for yourself or a loved one, you may contact your local adult social care department or a private care provider. Whether it is social services or a private company, the first step should be to assess the care needs of the person in need of care. When the assessor has a clear picture of the type and amount of support that will be needed, a care plan should be drawn up.

The care plan is usually created by the provider in conjunction with the care recipient and other family members where appropriate. Sometimes, for instance, in the case of someone with severe Alzheimer’s disease requiring dementia care, the family carers will have more input than if the care recipient is someone who simply needs a little support to maintain independence in their daily activities.

The care package

The care package should focus on the care recipient’s needs and preferences as to and how they want to live their life. It should specify how individual needs will be met and goals achieved. In home care, as in other forms of elderly care, there is an emphasis on person-centred care so that the care plan will be completely customised.

The care plan is a living document and will change over time as other aspects change. A critical example of this is how many hours a day your home carer will work.

For example, a person may begin by needing care for two or three hours a day, but changes in their physical condition may mean that a higher level of care such as live-in care becomes necessary.

Dulcie’s care story

In this short video, Dulcie explains her reasons for choosing Elder live-in care. They discuss how live-in care has allowed Dulcie to stay independent in his own home while making a new friend at the same time.

Living with Live in Care: Dulcie's Story


In addition to assessing your or your loved one’s needs, the assessor will also carry out a risk assessment of the home where care will take place.

This evaluation will highlight any risks to the care recipient or caregiver that need to be addressed before the in-home care commences. Medical care needs, such as medication schedules, are also important to consider.

What level of care is needed?

Whether 24/7 care is needed, just one 15 minute visit per day or something in between, the level of care will be agreed.

You may qualify for some help from your local authority, or opt for private live-in care. If the care recipient has more complex needs, such as for Alzheimer’s care, this will be reflected in the care plan.

The carers

When you arrange care at home, it’s important to find a professional home carer who’ll follow the care plan documentation to have a good idea of what they need to do to meet the care recipient’s needs.

Elderly care and dementia care at home are usually administered by a small number of care workers, so you will get to know the person or people who are coming into your loved one’s home, and they will get to know the care recipient.

Having regular care workers can be quite reassuring, especially to those needing dementia care who may become very anxious and unsettled if strangers attempt to help them with their personal care needs.

The care provider will ensure that you are allocated care workers who have all the training and experience an older person needs and try to match the care recipient with carers they will be happy with. In the case of a live-in carer, they will be specifically chosen so that they have things in common with the care recipient and will be able to meet all their needs.

Even tasks such as caring for your pets or assisting with favourite hobbies can be carried out by a carer who is living in the house. The companionship of a carer who lives in the home can change an older person’s life, and often provides much-needed reassurance to family members who are unable to be available to provide regular support.

When your regular carer is away on holiday, their duties will be covered by another care worker. If ever you are not happy with your care worker, you should inform your provider as soon as possible.

They’ll arrange for an alternative carer to visit. If ever you’re not completely happy with the care service, you should always speak to your provider. Their aim is to provide support to enable your loved one to remain happily and safely – living independently – in their own home, so if there are any problems, they will be very keen to resolve these.

Ongoing care

When you have a long-term support package in place for a loved one, their needs or wishes may change over time. If they require more care, are recovering from an illness, or if their care needs decrease, your home care services can be amended to reflect the new requirements.

You may decide the time has come for engaging a live-in carer or you may want visits reduced to twice a week. A key advantage of home care is that it is so flexible. Regular reviews will ensure that any changes in care needs are documented in the care plan and that any decisions about changes in the care service will be made collaboratively.

Call us for expert live-in care advice

Home care works in many different ways. Each person’s case is different with unique preferences, physical needs and life experiences, and care at home should be as tailored as possible to the individual’s requirements.

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