home careAs you grow older or following the diagnosis of a medical condition, help is often required to continue with your normal activities of daily living.

This help can be provided by family and friends, or for those that don't have access to such support, agencies can be drafted in for assistance.

When caring needs are identified, however, many families don't know exactly what's available and can become overwhelmed by the health and social care options.

Home care is one such service and in this article, you can learn if it's a suitable choice for your situation.

What Is Home Care?

Home care is supportive care provided in your place of residence and is delivered by trained care workers.

Its aim is to support your residential needs and keep you living independently for longer.

Who Is Home Care For?

Home care caters for a wide range of individuals and age ranges, many of whom benefit from simple companionship to assistance with day to day living.

Recipients include those with age-related issues, such as osteoarthritis induced mobility problems, all the way to chronic progressive neurological conditions like multiple sclerosis that require comprehensive medical management.

Alternatively, you may be recovering from an operation and need a short burst of care while you recuperate, or your family carers may arrange temporary home care to provide respite.

Which Professionals Are Responsible for Delivering Home Care?

This very much depends on your needs, as a range of staff or multi-disciplinary team with different specialities can be involved in your care. Through the care file and regular communication, your case should be managed holistically.

If you have medical requirements, nurses may be responsible for providing nursing care, such as medication management, wound dressing and catheter care. 

For terminal conditions, a specialist palliative care team may be involved in your care, with home visits in place.

Otherwise for personal care needs, like washing and dressing, trained care workers are often best placed to provide these services.

If you have rehabilitation requirements, a physiotherapist might visit to ensure you're independently mobile and coping with any exercises you've been given, while occupational therapists are qualified to assess you for any equipment needs and home adaptations.

Social workers can tie your care together and alongside your GP, can provide recommendations based on an assessment of your needs.

What Are the Benefits of Home Care?

When family and friends are nearby and you inhabit a familiar space with cherished possessions, it can provide a huge boost to your mental and physical wellbeing.   

Your home environment often produces familiar routines, whether that be a daily walk in the garden on receiving visits from friends. 

For those with less intensive needs, remaining active in your local community is a vital component of staying engaged with life, and a little targeted support often proves the perfect facilitator.

For those with more moderate needs who are unable to get out and about as before, home care can provide much-needed companionship. 

Loneliness affects many older and disabled people, and simply having a visit from a friendly face for a cup of tea is a lifeline that many home care recipients rely on.

Receiving care at home is a popular option and often the preferred choice for many needing extra support at the start of their care journey.

care workers charity donation

Disadvantages of Home Care

Although home care is a wonderful way to prevent loneliness, some may still feel somewhat isolated in their home environment if their health doesn't permit them to remain active and mobile. Such individuals may consider day care to provide extra social stimulation.

Depending on your needs, especially if you have an unstable or very complex medical condition, you might find a specialist care home with nursing more appropriate, where trained staff are on-hand with the right equipment to provide close supervision and quick intervention should the need arise.

A corollary of this is that for more intensive needs, where skilled nursing care is required around the clock, it may be more cost effective to investigate nursing home options near you.

Home Care Services

The exact service you can expect from home care will depend on an assessment of your needs and how you're funding your care. That said, home care offers a variety of services which should be flexible enough to cover most requests.

Companionship

This could include a care worker visiting at regular intervals for the company as well as help with activities of daily living

Personal care

Although this can sometimes be a sensitive area, personal care is vital to remain happy and healthy. These services could include washing, toileting and dressing.

Housework

If you have mobility problems, activities such as cleaning and vacuuming may have become progressively difficult, and therefore assistance can be arranged to maintain a tidy environment, free from potential hazards.

Shopping

Home care staff can help you create a shopping list and even escort you to get your groceries if you don't feel confident going alone.

Attending Appointments 

Many elderly or disabled people will have medical appointments to attend, perhaps at the hospital or with the GP. In these instances, it can be useful to have a trained care worker by your side.

Medication Prompting

If you have trouble remembering when to take your prescribed medication, having a scheduled visit can help coordinate this with your care plan

Cooking and Meal Preparation

One of the essential parts of remaining healthy is a balanced diet. If you're struggling to prepare enjoyable food, home care can be a fantastic option. Meals on Wheels might also be a good alternative.

Ambulation and Positioning

if you're struggling at home and need assistance, in many instances, it can be due to immobility. Perhaps you have a condition in which transferring from the bed to your chair or from the chair to the toilet is difficult. Perhaps you require a walking aid to get around the house. In these instances, care workers can provide the extra assistance required.

Nursing Care

Even if you have a complex medical condition, you might prefer to stay at home with the help of friends and family. Your normal carers in this instance can be supported by qualified nurses who oversee your care and cater for tracheostomy and ventilator supervision as well as medication administration and wound dressing.

Supervision

This can be especially important for dementia patients, whereby a care worker can be present to help with activities of daily living or ensure a client's safety.

Rehabilitation Requirements

As part of your health condition, perhaps you've been visited by a physiotherapist who's issued an exercise programme. In this case, your care workers can provide motivation and monitor your exercise technique, ensuring you're performing any movements safely and effectively.

Equipment needs

As part of your holistic management, your care workers can use their training to identify any equipment that might assist you in day to day living. This may involve contact with your GP or social worker, who can arrange a more a detailed assessment of your needs via an occupational therapist.

How Often Can I Receive Home Care?

As a general guide, sometimes you might only require a couple of short 15-minute visits through the day to help with specific activities.

Other clients might require more intensive input, especially if they have a complicated medical issue which requires regular maintenance or monitoring.

Such care could be extended to cover most of the day, up to 24-hour care for more advanced needs.

At other times, home care is used as respite to give family carers and friends a rest from their normal responsibilities. This type of short-term intervention can be ideal to cover gaps in care provision such as when a regular carer or personal assistant is away on holiday. 

Sometimes, due to an unstable medical condition, an individual's care needs can change rapidly and family carers may find themselves unable to cope with the increased demand. Home care can often be arranged to provide emergency care in these scenarios to ensure the standard and continuity of service is maintained.

What Home Care Providers Are Available?

If you're arranging your services privately, you could hire an assistant to cover your care needs.

Alternatively, you could arrange for an independent agency to provide the services required. Both national home care providers and local agencies are available in this instance.

For further information, you can consult the NHS website. However, if you're unsure exactly what assistance you require, it's advisable to speak to your GP or contact your local social services department.