Emma Barnes gives us an insight into the world of Home Care and answers the questions you never knew you had.
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I began my career in the social care sector as a Care Assistant.
I have worked in the care sector for over 6 years and throughout this period of time I have also undertaken higher education to help grow and evolve within my role.
Within this article I'm going to explain and explore the home care sector to give more insight surrounding the importance of the role within our community.
As a Care Assessor, I prepare and adapt care plans for service users and their families which are used to inform Care Assistants of the duties and tasks required within the care calls an individual receives.
What Is Home Care?
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What Does Home Care Do?
Home Care allows an individual who would otherwise not be able to live independently, remain in a residential property of their choice, (their own home/families home/friends home).
Home Care offers the service uses individualised, bespoke packages of care which encourages a person to live in the way they would choose if the had the ability to execute the actions independently.
Why Is Home Care Important?
Home Care is important to both society and the individual.
For a service user, accepting vulnerability due to age, illness or both is a very difficult transition and is a completely individualised experience.
To be able to remain in their own home can remove some of the barriers and anxiety surrounding the acceptance of support.
Home Care can also present as a supportive service, offering less intervention as a secondary source of support to unpaid Carers.
Unpaid Carers can include family, friends and spouses. There may be aspects of an individuals care an unpaid Carer is not confident in providing such as; medication support, hoisting, personal care or stoma/catheter support.
In these circumstances, care is tailored to match those needs and can increase or decrease as required.
Within society, home care is vital due to the limited availability of other care services including residential care homes, care units and hospital beds.
Home Care can provide support services and aftercare to NHS patients, freeing up vital medical resources and it lessens the pressure on the social care system overall.
Home Care avoids individuals falling below the needs threshold for more specialist services as it can be a very minimal and early intervention.
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What Kind Of Service Users Does Home Care Treat?
The type of service user utilising home care services is vast and wide.
Home Care, working along side multi agency health care professionals offer a person centred care service along a spectrum of minimal and maximum care support.
Home Care services may visit service users that need support with personal care including showering/bathing/washing, dressing and shaving (both wet and dry).
Some service users may need assistance with medication administration and cream application; toileting including commode emptying, incontinence pad changes and cleaning; transfers using mobility equipment including hoists, standing aids and lifts.
These needs could be due to limited mobility, illness or a lack of dexterity.
Minimal intervention may involve shopping and cooking, again due to a lack of ability or even individual confidence.
There is not a specific kind of service user home care treats.
Throughout my journey in the sector I have witnesses people of all genders, ages, races and abilities requiring the support of home care services.
It can be temporary or it can be for the rest of an individual’s life, depending on the reason for needing support.
What Are The Main Duties Of A Home Care Worker?
• Assisting with showering/bathing/washing.
• Assisting with dressing which can include stockings, pressure wraps and outfit selection.
• Shaving both wet and dry.
• Cream application and medication administration.
• Grooming assistance including hair and teeth care.
• Assistance with toileting including commode emptying, incontinence pad changes and cleaning.
• Using mobility equipment including hoists, standing aids and lifts.
• Emotional support.
• Fluid and nutritional support including shopping, cooking, feeding and PEG feeding.
• Assisting with catheter and stoma care.
• Skin integrity checks including completing body maps, pressure turning and following medical instructions.
• Dementia care and support for individuals lacking capacity.
• Infection control and the correct use of personal protective equipment.
• End of life care and support for service users and their families.
• Completion of medication record charts, logbooks, incident forms and regular training.
• Light domestic duties including bedding changes, hoovering, pots, washing and bin emptying.
• Good communication with multi agency professionals including pharmacists, GP’s, social workers, district nurses and day centres.
What Nursing, Health & Social Care Professionals Are Involved Home Care?
A major part of Home Care within the care sector is multi-agency collaboration and communication.
It ensures service users are enabled to use information, guidance and support from different specialists in a comprehensive and consistent way.
Care Assistants will undertake the majority of the roles listed above which can also be in partnership with unpaid carers for that service user.
Many of the guidance instructions to complete these tasks efficiently and safely can arise from service users appointing with physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and district nurses.
These professionals may visit regularly or not at all throughout a service users’ journey, depending on need and ability.
GP’s and pharmacists can play an important role in Home Care needs if a service users’ condition and deterioration are dependent on medication.
Local authorities may have regular reviews with service users, especially in the event of a change of needs.
Within these meetings it is common to discuss call increase/decreases, any issues a service user may be having and any way we they improve a service users wellbeing.
If a service user has complex health care needs which require the regular attendance of District Nurses, it is common for changes to occur on a regular basis.
Where Does Home Care Fit In The Process Of Patient Care?
Home Care can assist in providing a transitional support service for any individual who has experienced the need of health care services.
This can look like; rehabilitation support, mobility assistance, appointment escorts/advocacy, task support on a temporary/ongoing basis, medication support, observation and monitoring.
Multi agency collaboration allows patient care to be undertaken in an individual’s home where they are safe, comfortable and can often be more amenable to a new normal within their every day lives.
The Home Care process enables advocacy following observation within patient care, avoiding further deterioration, self-neglect and unnecessary injury.
Without suitable Home Care packages many service users may experience further deterioration, longer hospital stays or need to reside in monitored residential care.
Does Home Care Always Take Place Inside The Service User's Home?
Home Care is not limited to care within an individual’s home, it simply ensures a service user is able to reside in their own home with the support of professional care services.
Home Care services outside of the home can be medical appointments and the assistance to/from those appointments.
It can be in the local community – shopping, attending clubs, attending classes or visiting places of interest.
GPs and pharmacies contribute to Home Care services and can visit/deliver to services users homes or service users can attend surgeries independently.
If a service user stays with family/friends, Home Care services can adapt to the place of support accordingly.
Many Home Care services are to assist with transitions and rehabilitation, a big part of this is community integration and it is therefore vital that home care services are expansive and not limited to a service users home.
What Are The Career Opportunities In Home Care?
There are an unlimited amount of opportunities for expansion, progression and variety in the home care job sector.
As an unskilled role, you can begin a career as a Care Assistant with very few qualifications and receive training whilst working.
This is a great way to enter the sector and explore your own strengths and weaknesses.
By doing this and having regular communication with other health care professionals, you may develop interest in other areas of home care professions.
As a Care Assistant, you can progress within that role to more senior positions including Care Assessor, Care Co-ordination, Manager or Trainer.
You could also undertake higher education to become a District Nurse, Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist or Social Worker.
Due to the flexibility of Home Care, the Care Assistant role can be undertaken whilst completing further education, ensuring you will always have an income and ongoing experience.
Home care may also lead to more social care-based roles including befriending, volunteer co-ordinating, substance misuse support workers or 1 -1 companion roles.
Many roles in the Social Care non-profit sector value experience as highly as academic achievement so may not require higher education.
Within both health and Social Care sector roles, there are opportunities to undertake specialisms within the roles themselves.
A Brief History Of The Role Of The Home Care
Home Care is not a new concept and may have even being more prevalent in previous centuries due to the lack of affordable and available medical help.
Within the 19th century many families and family members received care in their own homes with many even giving birth at home!
Trained professionals such as Doctors and Nurses have always been a vital part of our community.
Home Care, the support and/or healthcare provided to individuals within their own homes, is now recognised and regulated within the same spectrum as all other health and social care provisions.
Care Assistants play a more formal role in providing support and unpaid carers are becoming more recognised within society.
The ongoing and expansive multi-agency collaboration and cooperation that is now encourage through policy and provision is improving individualised Home Care.
It is the hope that this will lead to constant improvements in the home care services, offering inclusive and person-centred support for centuries to come.