Home care is a service used mainly by the elderly. It is provided by local authorities and agencies working together and is particularly suitable for those who would rather not go into residential care but instead feel they can cope, with some help, in their own home and thus retain some measure of independence. Your own local authority can familiarise you with how the system works in general, eg on matters of eligibility criteria, how finance is organised etc.
Home care is supported by legislation under the Care in the Community Act which stipulates that anyone who is finding it difficult to manage at home, whether through infirmity, illness or disability, should be given the opportunity to seek the help and support that will allow them to continue to live in the community amongst their friends and relatives for as long as they are willing, or able, to do so.
A number of disparate services are encompassed by home care and typically an agency will provide carers, sitters, home helps, nurses etc. In many cases such services could include, for example:
- Day care - in which a carer can be on hand anything from an hour to the full 24 hours a day to attend to the client’s everyday needs, including cooking and light domestic tasks.
- Sitters – providing general care and companionship for the elderly and sick living on their own.
- Sleepover carers – ensuring that any overnight needs can be attended to promptly.
- Specialised nursing – some agencies will provide nurses who can, in adherence to a doctor’s instructions, deliver a high of standard of care and treatment to patients suffering from cancer.
When selecting a service provider you should obtain as much literature as possible about them from your local Social Services department or by an internet search. From that you should be able to find out all the necessary details about that agency, for example how long they have been serving the community, to what extent their staff are experienced and qualified and what their charges are likely to be.