How to arrange care at home

Posted by Gareth Hargreaves

Arranging personal care services for an elderly person in his or her own home.

Finding home care services

Personal care includes activities such as getting up in the mornings, going to bed at night, using the toilet and washing yourself.

The local council is the main provider of help with personal care, either by directly employing staff or by commissioning commercial or not-for-profit agencies to carry it out on their behalf. If your relative needs help of this sort, the council’s need assessment should be your first port of call.

If your relative doesn’t meet the council’s eligibility criteria or he or she does not wish to contact the council, care can also be purchased privately from a care agency, which may be commercial or not for profit such as a housing association. The care period can last for as long or short a period as is needed from one hour a week to live-in care.

Finding a care agency

When choosing an agency:

  • Get a list of agencies in your relative’s area. This will be available from the local council, the social care registration authority or the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA).
  • Draw up a shortlist of agencies that appear to be able to meet your relative’s needs.
  • Check they are each a member of the United Kingdom Homecare Association (UKHCA) as these agencies are required to adhere to their Code of Practice to ensure that high standards of care are provided.
  • Check they are each registered with the appropriate social care registration authority (see below) and get their inspection reports and, if available, their star ratings.
  • Ask for their Statement of Purpose and price list.
  • Ensure there is a clear agreement between the agency and your relative about the type of care needed and the hours to be worked.

If your relative doesn't have a needs assessment

If your relative employs a carer privately from an agency, without having an assessment from the council, the agency should carry out an assessment of your relative’s needs. This should include:

  • The help your relative needs and details of any illness and medication.
  • Who else is involved in supporting your relative.
  • Your relative’s ability to see, hear and communicate and his or her preferred method of communicating.
  • Any problems with continence or mobility and any equipment your relative uses.
  • Arrangements for getting access to your relative’s house.
  • Any dietary requirements and preferences and any religious and cultural needs.
  • Whether your relative is at risk living at home.

Employing a carer

If your relative is employing his or her own carer(s) or personal assistant(s), perhaps through direct payments, both need to know exactly what their responsibilities are and what to do if things go wrong. Things your relative should think of in this situation are described below.

  • Prepare a job description with details of the carer’s duties.
  • Prepare a set of disciplinary and dismissal procedures and practices.
  • Draw up a contract for his or her carer. This should include details of the rates of pay (including weekends and bank holidays), hours of work, probationary period, holidays and sickness. The job description and disciplinary procedures should form part of the contract.
  • Carry out a basic health and safety check to ensure there are no hazards, such as loose rugs or faulty electrical goods at home.
  • Be aware that he or she must pay the carer the statutory minimum for the hours he or she works.
  • If advertising in a shop window or paper, never put your or your relative’s full address. It is advisable also only to use the first part of the postcode and a PO box number or advertisement number.
  • You should also request and take up references.


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