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Options for care

WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

You don't have to go it alone – help is out there and remember, the more support you have, the easier caring can feel. Here are some options to consider:

1. Home-care workers

If your care is based at home, home care workers can offer daily support in different ways, according to your needs. They can come at the same time every morning, to help the person you care for, perhaps to get in and out of bed, go to the toilet, or get washed and dressed. Or they can help with cleaning, shopping and preparing meals. Home care workers are organised through your local authority, after you have had a Carer’s Assessment.

2. Voluntary help

Several charities offer help with care via a local team of approved volunteers. Even though it’s voluntary, you’ll still be able to organise the help for a time to suit you, and ask for what you need most, whether it’s keeping the person you care for company, taking them to hospital appointments, preparing meals or even doing the garden. You should get the same volunteer each time where possible, to allow trust and a relationship to build up between the volunteer and the person you care for.

3. Paid-for help

Employing a care-worker directly can give you more control over the kind of care you receive. Many care-workers belong to agencies and you can find one by looking up local nursing agencies or care agencies. Look for an agency or careworker approved by the industry body, The United Kingdom Homecare Association Ltd (UKHCA). If you don’t use an agency, be aware that this will make you responsible for checking references, writing a job description and sorting out income tax and national insurance.

Direct payments from the local authority are available to pay for these services but a payment can only be made to the person needing the care. The aim is to fund services that will allow a person with care needs, eg someone with a disability, or an older person, to live independently. It’s a complex area, because as a carer, you are also eligible for a direct payment to pay for services you need, but you can’t spend this money on getting help from a care agency, you have to spend it on services that directly support you, such as cleaning, or taxi fares - and note that direct payments are also different from Direct Payments, which is a term used to describe benefits and pensions made directly into your bank account.

4. Response alarms

A response alarm service can help people with care needs maintain a life of independence. It’s useful for the elderly, or those with a physical disability or a long-term condition like diabetes. Most are based on a remote control button, which can be worn as pendant or on the wrist. With a simple press of the button the wearer is put through to a special emergency response centre. Depending on the situation, the call centre will alert one of two designated helpers (usually the main carer, or friends or family who live nearby) or if necessary, an ambulance. The equipment works anywhere in the house or garden and it’s particularly helpful for people who may be at risk of a fall, or who have difficulty remembering telephone numbers. Response alarms are a paid-for service, but payment options are available.

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