What is “home care”?

There’s been a lot of media coverage recently regarding Carers and home or community care, but what exactly does it entail?  And who is it for?  What do these Carers we’ve been clapping for actually do and for whom?

Also called domiciliary care, home care is, put very simply, care for an individual delivered in their own home.  This article focuses on the elderly, but those who benefit range in age from children to the elderly.  Younger clients will have a condition which gives them extra challenges in life and care is usually initiated by a medical practioner.  The elderly may have a condition or illness which gives rise to the need for extra help, or it may simply be that age-related deterioration means the person can no longer do everything required to stay safely at home without this extra help.

In the case of the elderly, it is not only doctors who initiate care.  Indeed the elderly person may not feel the need to visit the doctor – but may still be struggling at home.  Frequently it is the client themselves or family who initially introduce the idea -either because they can’t help enough or because the elder prefers the help to come from a third party so that family visits can be purely social.  There’s a big difference in interaction between visiting parents and helping them with housework or to shower… and visiting them and sitting down for a drink and a chat!

So how do you know whether home care would help you or your loved one? 

We all age differently.  There isn’t a fixed point after which home care is recommended.  Some of the catalysts include concerns about whether a person is eating nutritiously – or surviving on toast because cooking has become too much of “a bother” – often a euphemism for impossible!  Similarly, is the person able to keep themselves, their clothes and their house clean?  Is there enough social interaction?  Is getting to an appointment – whether hairdresser or medical – possible or are these being avoided or missed due to level of difficulty?  If you find yourself thinking that any of these may be true for you or your loved one it may be time to start thinking about some extra help.

What exactly does home care entail? 

Elderly home care can include help with washing, dressing, toileting, shopping, cooking, laundry, housework, taking medication, getting to and from social and medical appointments or day care centres and pure socialisation visits and outings.   Most Carers cannot perform clinical tasks such as changing dressings or giving injections, but some care agencies also offer nursing care and all will work in conjunction with community nurses.  Frequency of visits varies from help once a week to have a shower or do some shopping, to several calls a day to help a client get up, dressed and have breakfast, then have lunch, dinner and undress and go to bed at night.  It can be 7 days/week or only on the days when family cannot help.  It’s up to the individual, usually evolves and sometimes changes e.g. after an illness or operation.

How do you initiate home care? 

If you hope to have the States of Jersey contribute to care costs via the Long Term Care (LTC) scheme you will need to be assessed by a Social Worker as help is only available for assessed needs.  If you are happy to self-fund in whole or in part you simply need to find an agency who has availability at the times you would like.  All agencies have to be regulated by the Jersey Care Commission and comply with their standards.  You may have had a personal recommendation to one agency or another – or may need to call two or three to find one who has availability where you live. Just Google “elderly home care Jersey CI” and start making calls!  How to choose a home care agency will be the subject of another article.

Elderly home care services are there to support a client’s independence and freedom of choice to stay in their own home – safely.  Good Carers work to a client’s preferences and do not take over or force changes to longstanding habits and timetables.  The care terminology is “person-centred care”.  In short, it’s all about you – something for which the young are criticised but the elderly have earned the right to enjoy!