What is Homecare? Your questions answered

Published: 13/03/2017

We often get people from across Greenwich contacting us asking for information about homecare - what is it, and how does it work? So, we thought we'd answer your most frequently asked questions here. Happy reading!

What is homecare?
Domiciliary care, homecare or care at home are all names used to describe a range of personal care and support services provided to people in their own homes.  The care delivered can range from a 30 minute check to ensure that someone has taken prescribed medication, for example right through to 24 hour, live-in care.
Who can benefit from home care services?
Homecare companies provide care to adults and older people with a variety of care and support needs and some support children and younger people.  Many home care providers specialise in the delivery of services to one of these age groups or to groups with care needs dictated by a specific disability or illness, e.g. learning disability, mental health diagnosis.

Homecare is usually non-medical, although some Care Assistants may be trained to undertake tasks such as peg feeding.  Homecare providers work in partnership with other Health & Social Care professionals, so an individual may receive personal and medical care at home through the co-ordinated services of, for example, Care Assistants, District Nurses, and Occupational Therapists.
How is Homecare paid for?
Homecare can be self-funded or state funded, or a combination of both depending on an assessment of need and a financial assessment carried out by the Local Authority.
Your local council's social work team are obliged to perform an assessment of your care needs if you request it.  If they agree that you need care, they will then undertake a financial assessment.  Taking your income and savings - but not the value of your home - into account, the financial assessment will establish whether you qualify for financial assistance from the state.

There are several ways that homecare can be funded. In some cases local councils or the health service will pay all or part of the costs of care. In England and Wales people may be required to make a financial contribution to their package of care.
Once the council has decided that you have eligible needs for care, they will discuss with you how these can be met.  The council then may provide your care itself, or ask an approved agency to provide it on their behalf. Or the council may offer you a personal budget - a notional amount to spend - which would give you more choice and control over your care.

You can either buy services from a regulated homecare provider or take on the responsibility of employing your own personal assistant (PA).  Regulated providers carry out careful checks on staff they recruit, consider health and safety risks, and account to the Revenue for tax and national insurance. They are inspected by a care regulator and must carry out staff training. In contrast, PAs are not regulated and you would need to arrange checks, training and PAYE, as well as comply with the law as an employer - a burden some would prefer to avoid.

Instead of a direct payment, you could ask the council to buy council services or services from a homecare provider for you, using your personal budget.

Finally, you or your family can fund your own care, without state assistance, and use a local homecare agency privately to provide care, or add to the care the council provides.
What can be provided?
Whilst homecare generally refers to personal and domestic care services delivered in the home, Care Assistants employed by homecare companies may also undertake duties outside a person’s home.  These duties may include accompanying the person to attend a hospital appointment or social event or shopping on behalf of, or with, them.

Homecare should promote and develop the independence of people by encouraging individuals to do as much as possible for themselves and take part in social activities. There is a greater move towards personalisation, which gives greater choice and control to the person receiving the service regarding their care delivery.
How is Homecare regulated?
Homecare companies are required to follow stringent procedures when recruiting care staff and must provide appropriate training to ensure that staff can deliver care safely and effectively.  They are also inspected, monitored and regulated by both the local authority and the relevant national body.  In England it is the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

Homecare companies also undertake their own quality assurance checks using methods such as staff supervision and appraisal, spot checks, training assessments, client satisfaction questionnaires, complaints and compliments, client forums, staff surveys, team meetings and feedback from other Health & Social Care professionals.
What can I do to find out more?
If you would like further information on Homecare services you can contact us via the details on our website.