Questions to ask your chosen home care agency

Those looking for a home care agency to assist them with their needs, or the needs of a loved one, are advised to ask a number of questions before they choose which is the best agency for their requirements.

The careworkers
An agency will provide services via a trained team of care workers, and this may mean that you won’t always have the same person visiting your home. It’s therefore important to know the exactly how the agency hires those that work for them, so you know that your loved one will be receiving a service that is consistently professional. Don’t be afraid to ask your chosen agency the following:

•    How strict is the interview process for your care workers?
•    Do all of your care workers undergo a criminal records check?
•    What type of training, qualifications and experience do your care workers have?
•    What will happen if my chosen care worker is unable to make it to work?
•    How many different care workers should I/my relative expect to see in the space of a week/month? Is it possible to choose a regular care worker?

The needs of your relative
When you choose to work with a home care agency, the most important thing to know is that your relative’s needs are going to be met. You need to choose an agency that will be happy to openly discuss these needs and have the solutions in place to meet them no matter what.

•    How will you assess my relative’s needs?
•    Are you able to find a care worker that can visit my relative at the times required?
•    What happens if my relative and your chosen care worker are not compatible?
•    What is the procedure if there is a medical emergency? Who will you contact?
•    How will the care worker enter my relative’s home? How will this information be secure?

The agency
Your chosen agency should have strict procedures in place to ensure that safety and comfort of your relative at all times.

•    How do you ensure that the quality of care is always met?
•    How will your staff maintain my relative’s privacy and dignity?
•    What procedures do you have in place to protect my relative from neglect, self-harm, etc.?
•    How will your staff handle my relative’s money?
•    What procedures are in place if there is evidence of neglect, theft?

You might also want to delve into the legal requirements that you/the agency may need to consider such as signing a contract and the terms of payment.

•    Do you have a standard contract for your work with private clients?
•    How can I pay for your services and when will this be required?
•    Are there any extra charges for overnight stays/weekends/bank holidays?
•    What insurance do you have in place to protect my relative?

Home care agencies such as Kentish Home Care work with only the most professional carers and can provide home care assistance for you or your loved one at any time of the day or night.

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Creating dementia-friendly environments in the home

Caring for someone with dementia can be made a lot easier if you know how to create a home environment that can support their lifestyle.

Kitchen and dining room

You should make it clear where everything is in the kitchen. This can sometimes be difficult in modern fitted kitchens where white appliances such as fridges and dishwashers are hidden behind unit doors. To help, you might want to label where these items are. You should also label the hot and cold functions on taps clearly.  Replace closed cupboards with open shelving so that they can see foodstuffs and utensils. This will also give the person who is caring for them an idea of whether or not their patient is eating well.  It’s important that everything that may be required is well within reach and that the appliances are easy to use. Assistive technology could help with this.

For the dining area, something as simple as setting the table has been proven to improve the appetite of a person with dementia. Use contrasting colours on tablecloths and cutlery so that these things can be easily seen and identified.

Bedroom

Sometimes a person with dementia will struggle to find their way around the home, particularly when faced with many doors. Make sure that the door is painted a different colour from the surrounding wall or perhaps personalise it with a sign.

Once in the room, make sure the bed is accessible from both sides and that the linen is in a colour that contrasts from the carpet. Ideally, the toilet area should be in plain sight from the bed as to avoid any questions about where the toilet is.  You may want to opt for a hospital-style bed that has raised edges as this will not only prevent people from falling out of bed but provide emotional support for those who have lived with a partner for many years.

Bathroom

The bathroom can present many challenges but changing the design slightly can help. Make sure toilet seats, handrails and towels are easily identifiable as this will prompt the person to use them. Bathrooms should always promote a comfortable experience so avoid a hospital-like appearance when considering the design.

For general safety, make sure that the thermostat is not too high as the person may forget to check that the water is a safe temperature. Install a special bath plug that allows the water to drain away if the bathtub gets too full.

People who have dementia may feel scared or anxious when they see their own reflection in the mirror as they’re no longer able to recognise themselves. For this reason, it might be necessary to remove or cover any mirrors.

For more information on dementia care visit Kentish Homecare

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Preparing to care for someone with dementia

No one is born with the skills of communicating with someone who has dementia so when your loved one has dementia, it’s not unusual to feel as though you’re absolutely useless and unequipped to provide dementia homecare for them. Don’t worry, here are some tips and advice to help you deal with the situation better.

Understand the dementia diagnosis

The first step to providing the right care is to understand the diagnoses that your loved one has been given. Although there is no cure for the disease, you should research the signs and symptoms of dementia and what you might be able to do to slow down the process somewhat. Sites such as Dementia Action Alliance can provide you with a wide range of resources to help you better understand what your loved one is going through.

Have the right mindset

You need to remember that although a person with dementia is impaired, this does not mean that they’re not entitled to the same respect and dignity as they were before. Instead of dismissing them, you must learn how to engage with them in a way that will encourage their independence as much as possible. Although it can be difficult, you should always maintain a positive attitude as the person you’re caring for will be able to sense otherwise.

Learn how to communicate

Dementia can severely impair the way that someone communicates which can lead to frustrations and challenging behaviour. Communication must, therefore, be approached differently. Try some of these simple techniques:

•    Maintain eye contact
•    Speak slowly and calmly
•    Ask simple questions
•    Eliminate any distractions
•    Use touch
•    Encourage them to remember the past
•    Have a sense of humour

Listening patiently to a person with dementia is vital to understanding their needs and requirements. If it becomes challenging, try to reassure them that you’re there for them and that they are in a safe, caring environment.

Handling challenging behaviour can be incredibly tough, but by using patience, flexibility, compassion and creativity, you can try to accommodate the behaviour rather than controlling it. Remember that the person you’re caring for cannot change their illness, so it helps not to take things personally and maintain a calm, positive outlook.

Seek dementia homecare support

There are plenty of dementia homecare services available that can offer professional help and advice when you’re struggling to cope. You could also approach local support groups in your area that are often run by people who are experienced or have experienced, the same type of situation. You should never underestimate the power of family and friends to see you through a difficult time as caring for a loved one with dementia can also begin to affect your physical and mental wellbeing.

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Discussing home care with your elderly relative

It can be tough to talk to an elderly relative about home care because a lot of the time they may still feel just as independent as they were when they were young. If you’ve noticed some signs that your relative might need assistance in their home, here is how to approach the subject with honesty, compassion and sensitivity.

Think about how they feel

Take a moment to think about how your relative may be feeling in their own head. It’s probably very difficult for them to admit that they are unable to cope with their daily routine as well as they once could and that they might need to let go of old routines. They also might be fearful of their health deteriorating or that they may end up in a residential home, so it’s important to let them know that this isn’t the approach you’re considering.

No one wants to lose their dignity or independence so rather than telling your elderly relative what they should and should not be doing, speak to them honestly and openly about your concerns. This should be a two-way conversation so you should remain calm and be prepared to listen to what they have to say, even if you don’t agree. Making an effort to show that you have understood their fears and concerns will be a huge benefit to the overall discussion.

Reassure them

Reassure them that you have no intention of letting their independence slip away and that you think it’s best if they stay at home and receive home care. Explain to them that home care for the elderly in their own home provides plenty of benefits such as letting them stick to their own daily routine in surroundings that they’re comfortable in. Home care is all about making sure that a person still has a say in how they live their life and a good agency will recognise and encourage this.

Make it about someone else

You might want to explain to your loved one that you’d feel much better if you knew that someone was taking the time to care for them the way they deserve to be cared for. This isn’t an opportunity to guilt-trip your relative rather than expressing your fear that they might injure themselves when they’re on their own. If you have elderly parents that still live together, explain that home care will give them a chance to spend more time together and if one is the main carer for the other, highlight how regular home help might ease the burden.

If you are currently the main carer for your elderly relative, there’s no harm in admitting that you’re finding it to be a strain on your mental or physical health because it’s important that you’re healthy too.

Seek professional advice

Contacting a local home care provider will give you a chance to ask as many questions as you need to determine whether this is the best option for your elderly relative. Most home care agencies will be happy to arrange a meeting with you and your relative to have an informal discussion about any concerns that they might have.

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Advance care planning for someone with dementia

Dementia is a disease that can severely reduce someone’s ability to live independently. However, this is a variety of support services available to allow them to remain in their own home. Caring for dementia patients in their own home will involve things like feeding, dressing, bathing and mobility, all of which will be detailed in an advanced care plan.

What is advance care planning.

Advance care planning is a way to make sure that a dementia patient is receiving the support that they want. Everyone who is invested in caring for that person must discuss and record the person’s wishes regarding the future of their care. Ensuring that doctors and care workers know these things will mean that its more likely that the person will be supported as they’d like to be, even if they don’t have the capacity to say this in the future. Advance dementia care planning can also reduce feelings of anxiety.

Statements for future wishes and refusal of treatment

If it is expected that someone is going to lose capacity in the future, they can discuss how they wish to be treated and supported. These are known as ‘advanced statements’, and while they don’t need to be written down, it’s a good idea to do so and attach them to a care plan.

Some examples of advanced statements include:
•    I would want to stay in my own home as long as possible.
•    I would want to have a strict vegetarian diet.
•    I would want you to involve my partner and children in my decisions.
•    I would not want religion to play any part in my future.
•    I would not want any treatment that could worsen the effects of my dementia.

If these wishes are not complied with, a care worker would need a good reason as to why. However, a best interests decision could be made to take into account the person’s wishes as much as possible. For example, many people make an advanced statement that they wish to stay in their own home, but it’s not always possible to adhere to this, particularly if their health begins to deteriorate further.

Lasting power of attorney.

We all have the right to have a named individual who we wish to make decisions for us if we’re no longer able to make them ourselves. The Mental Capacity Act means that you can now do this for money, property, health and welfare. This is known as the Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), and while in most cases your attorney will be a family member, you can also choose a close friend or even a solicitor. The attorney must always make decisions with the best interests of the person in mind.

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How Home Help Will Benifit You

What is home help and how might it benefit you

Home help, or homecare, is defined as anything from help with simple household chores to full, 24-hour support. This type of service means that you can receive support without making drastic lifestyle changes and privately-owned companies such as Kentish Homecare can provide a care solution that is perfectly tailored to you or your loved one.

Here are some of the main benefits of home help:

You’ll stay in familiar surroundings

With a home help service, you’ll be able to stay in your own home meaning that you don’t need to worry about a change of surroundings, something that can be an incredibly daunting prospect. This familiarity is incredibly important in conditions that affect memory loss, such as dementia.

Maintain your independence

The independence that you or your loved one has will remain the same, or perhaps even be encouraged further with a home care service. Your daily routine can remain the same, and you can choose to wake up, eat and socialise when you want to rather than the constraints that a care home may place on you. A support worker that comes to your home can work around your schedule and help you to arrange day trips if you’d like.

Care that is tailored to you

The care and support that you’ll receive through a home help service will be much more tailored to not only your needs but your personality too. In a residential home, for example, care will be stretched among all residents, and thus your exacting requirements may not be tended too. Home help is much more flexible, and you can change your mind about the amount of help you require as you wish.

Responsibility will be shared

If you’re currently receiving home help from family or friends, opting for a homecare service helps to share responsibility. The flexibility of home help means that you can choose which days you wish your loved ones to help out and which days a professional carer will visit you. This can help to alleviate the physical and emotional bearings that caring for someone may have on a loved one.

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Long Term Home Care Plans

Creating a long-term home care plan for your loved one

A care plan is something that needs to be put in place to set out how someone’s needs should be met. A successful care plan will be individual to a person, and you should aim to give your loved one as much input as possible to ensure that their physical, mental and social needs will all be met.

The care plan that you draw up should include:
•    What must be identified in the assessment
•    If the needs meet eligibility criteria
•    How your chosen care provider intends to meet these needs
•    The individual’s desired outcomes
•    The carer’s desired outcomes
•    Your budget

Once you’ve settled on your plan, it should always be reviewed on a regular basis so that you can identify whether the needs you have specified are being met and if any goals need to be changed.
How do you decide which is best?
Of course, there are a number of different home care options to choose from and some may meet your needs better than others. Whichever you choose for your loved one, you should make sure that it can help them to:

•    Live independently
•    Maintain control over their own life
•    Have access to employment and family
•    Help them to participate in society
•    Give them the best possible quality of life
•    Maintain dignity and respect

Home care for the elderly in their own home.

A good home care service comes with many benefits and it is often the best option for people to maintain their independence if a care worker is hired just to help with day to day tasks that your loved one may otherwise struggle with.  Privately owned organisations such as Kentish Homecare can provide a flexible amount of support from providing someone simply to help with household chores to round the clock care that allows your loved one to remain in their own home.

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Dementia Homecare Options

How to choose the appropriate care for someone with Dementia

The number of people living with Dementia is set to increase, so it’s all the more important to know how to go about finding the right care for your loved one.
First of all, check your local care providers on the Care Quality Commission’s website and see which are rated ‘good’. Remember, all independent care providers are regulated by them, so their reports will give you a good insight into the standard of care.

Once you’ve narrowed down your search, contact the care providers and don’t be afraid to ask a few searching questions. Ask how they vet their staff for example, what training they offer and how often this is refreshed.

A good dementia care provider will take the time to get to know the person for whom they are caring. They’ll familiarise themselves with their personal history, take on board their history, interest, likes and dislikes, seeing them as a whole person and not simply their symptoms.

So when looking for care ask: how is the delivery of your service person centred? Then enquire how they would involve the care receiver in the formation of the care plan – and its reviews. How can they tailor the plan to their wishes? For example, you may want to ask how they could facilitate particular interests or hobbies?
Also, always be sure to establish what their remit of care is, what services can they provide, and what medical support, for example, might entail a stay in the hospital.

With Dementia, the longer someone remains in familiar surroundings, the better. So organise appropriate dementia care in your own home so that they can maintain their independence for as long as possible, and in surroundings, they know.

If you need to find a residential or nursing home, then visit it, don’t be afraid to ask questions, and do get a feel for how safe the environment is and how happy the residents are. Are regular activities or outings organised for the residents, or are they all sitting around the television. Does the home smell fresh and clean? These sorts of details are telling, so make a note of them.
Finding the right care for someone is never easy, but we hope these few steps will help you.

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Funding for home help.

Funding home help can prove a challenge; here are a few ideas on how to go about it

The first port of call is to ask your local authority for an assessment of your care needs; as everyone is entitled to this assessment whatever their financial position. If your local authority finds you need care support, then they’ll conduct a means test. This assessment of your finances will determine whether the local authority will contribute to your care costs or not.

Your local authority may be able to help, however, bear in mind that most people have to pay some contribution to their care now. As things stand, anyone with capital including property of more than £23,250, won’t have care provided by the local authority.
However, if your local authority will provide some or all of the care, you’ll be given a personal budget; and you may be able to use this to choose your home help provider. You don’t necessarily have to use the local authority’s care service.
Remember too, that some healthcare, rather than social care, may be funded by the NHS, either in a hospital or the community; and if this care is complex, a continuing healthcare package may be put in place that’s funded by the NHS.

Another source to turn to for home care help funding costs is a charity or fund. The Family Fund, for example, gives grants to support children with severe disabilities. Look around to see if there is a charity related to your line of work or profession – which may be able to help.

You may also find seeking independent financial advice of assistance, if you do, look for an adviser who specialises in matters relating to care funding. In addition, make an appointment at your local Citizens Advice Bureau, as they too have comprehensive experience in such matters.

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Home Care Funding

Funding options for professional home care

If you’re currently considering options for professional care at home, you might want to also think about funding. We’ve put together a few different routes you could take.

Local authorities

Your local authority may be able to help you with home care funding. To inquire, request them to assess your care needs, and if they agree that you need support, they will conduct a means test to establish whether or not the authority will meet the total cost of your care or if you may have to contribute. If your local authority agrees to meet the total sum of costs, you will be set a personal budget and that way you can arrange the best care for you. Professional carers can also be hired through your local authority.
Remember that even if the local authority is unable to cover your costs, you can still ask them for advice regarding the best option for you or your loved one.

The NHS
If the home care you require is health related it’s likely that you’ll be able to receive a certain amount of help from the NHS. The NHS continuing healthcare can help if your needs are severe and this type of care is usually free, arranged and funded by the NHS. This will require a full assessment with a team of healthcare professionals. Other types of care provided by the NHS include “aftercare” and “nursing care, ” but again, this all depends on each individual situation.

Charities and funds

Sometimes charities are able to give you financial support with your at-home care. For example, if you have worked in a particular industry in the past the corresponding charity may be able to offer funds. If you have a child under the age of 18 who requires professional home care, the Family Fund may be able to help.

Other benefits

If you are under the age of 65, you might be entitled to Personal Independence Payment to help with some expenses. On the other hand, if you’re over 65 and need help with basic tasks such as getting up on a morning, washing, preparing meals or going to the toilet you might be eligible for Attendance Allowance.

Hopefully our rough guide has given you some of the advice you require to get the help that you need in place as soon as possible.

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