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Home care: how to choose a care provider

Choosing which company to employ to provide care for yourself or a loved one is an important decision and you need to carry out some research beforehand. Here are some things to consider.

Choosing which company to employ to provide care for yourself or a loved one is an important decision and you need to carry out some research beforehand. There are some key issues to clarify so that you know that you will always receive high-quality home care from a caregiver you can trust.

Establish who will we providing in-home care

Ask any provider of care at home whether all their employees have DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks prior to commencing work. These were previously known as CRB checks and establish whether a person has any spent or unspent convictions and whether they have received any cautions, reprimands or final warnings.

Other relevant information held by police should also be disclosed and also a check that the person is not on the DBS barred list of people who are unsuitable for working with the client group. This applies to people employed in elderly care in England and Wales, but there are slight differences in the procedure in Scotland and Northern Ireland.

It is also important to find out the private care provider’s policy on training and ongoing supervision of their employees. If your parent or other relative requires specialist care, Alzheimer’s care for example, has the carer been trained in this and, if so, is the training accredited?

Providers also have a duty to ensure that the people they employ are legally allowed to work in the UK and they should provide suitable insurance in case of any problems arising. You should also be satisfied that the provider complies with the National Minimum Wage legislation.

Ask how care packages are developed

Ask whether a home visit is routinely carried out before the service starts. This is important so that all parties understand exactly what is needed. It is important to find out exactly what care will be provided and this should be documented in a written care plan.

Check that the provider includes the person receiving care at home and family members in this so that all the person’s relevant needs, wishes and abilities are well understood. People receiving care for dementia are often able to express their wishes and preferences. It is important that these are taken into account and that the person is comfortable with the in-home care that is provided.

Find out how the delivery of the care is documented

The care plan should include details of tasks carried out by the carer and it should be regularly updated. Keeping the care plan accessible can help family members to stay aware of any changes in the condition of the person receiving care, particularly if they need dementia care and may be prone to forgetting recent events.

Ask the provider whether the same carers will deliver the care all the time

With elderly care, it is very important that the same carers visit the person regularly. If they are familiar with the person they care for they will be able to notice even small changes in the person’s condition and take action accordingly. This may involve small changes to the care plan or referral to a doctor or other professional. Independent living can be facilitated more easily when familiar carers are employed.

With dementia care, particularly, someone who is anxious needs the stability of seeing familiar faces and can often become upset if a stranger suddenly appears in their home. Find out how the provider ensures that a regular carer or small group of carers visit the person every time.

Types of elderly care

Different providers may supply different types of care. If you feel that you or your loved one would benefit from having someone around all the time, you may wish to ask the provider if they supply private live-in care or simply regular visits.

If you decide on live-in care you have the satisfaction of knowing that the person providing 24/7 care will get to know the person they are caring for really well and vice versa. With this type of care, the live-in carer usually works in rotation with a second carer, sometimes two weeks on and two weeks off. This means there is much less disruption in the person’s life and they can build up a good rapport with the person caring for them.

Problems and emergency procedures

Ask to see the provider’s policies for emergency situations. If the carer is unable to visit the person, what cover is in place? You should check that there is a contact number for emergencies, as well as a clear policy in place to encourage communication between your family and your caregiver.

They should also have a complaints procedure that details how complaints are dealt with and the timescale for this.

Costs of elderly care at home

Find out the cost of care and whether you would be eligible for any assistance with this. The home care provider may require monthly or weekly scheduled payments or they may offer different payment options.

Finding a reliable provider of in-home care can often enable someone who would otherwise have needed expensive residential care to remain in their own home.

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