Is home care right for you?
There are, of course, benefits and drawbacks to using domiciliary care services, which you will want to weigh up before going any further. Take time to think through the following points and discuss them with a friend or family member, if you can.
The advantages of home care services
Home comforts: they allow older people to stay in their own homes for longer.
Stability: you can maintain contact with friends and your local community.
Peace of mind: for you and your family that you’re being looked after and aren’t alone.
Flexibility: home care services are flexible and you can have as little, or as much, help as you need. Care can be tailored to fit your needs.
Agency responsibility: most care is provided by agencies, which means that the agency is responsible for vetting staff and will cover absences if necessary.
Duty of care: local authorities have a duty of care to provide help to those with eligible needs.
Standards: care agencies must be registered with national regulators who check that they are working to set standards and, in England, rate their services.
Cost: receiving care at home might be a lot cheaper than moving into a care home, depending on the amount of care needed.
Pets: if you have pets, they can continue to live with you.
The disadvantages of home care services
- Carers aren't around 24/7: unless you have a live-in carer. If you need this reassurance, you may prefer to move into extra care housing or a care home. You could also consider an alarm system and perhaps other devices such as a fall detector or bed sensor.
- Different staff: with an agency, although the aim is usually to provide consistency of care, sometimes different staff may be used in times of staff sickness, holiday or when there is a shortage of carers. Carers will try but might not always call at the arranged times (for example, if they have to deal with an emergency at their previous call), which can be particularly difficult if the older person needs to be helped to the toilet.
- Geographical limits: your choice of care services may be limited by what’s available in your area.
The pros and cons of employing a personal assistant
If you’re thinking about employing a personal assistant, there are other issues to consider:
- Employer responsibilities: there can be a lot to think about if you’re employing personal assistants or helpers directly – for example, pay and contracts, and ensuring they’re doing their job properly.
- Registration: individual personal assistants don’t have to be registered with a workforce regulator, so there is no national body to check up on them. If this is something that concerns you, you could use a regulated agency instead.
- Lack of replacement cover: if personal assistants or helpers are self-employed/private individuals, you could be left without any replacement cover if the helper is absent from work. This could, however, be addressed using agency cover.
If you’re searching for care at home, our step-by-step guide helps you decide how to get the best help for your needs.
Here are the questions to ask a home care agency. Prepare for your meeting and get the answers you need.
Home care services can be provided by a range of organisations or even private individuals.