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Identifying the right live-in care provider for you

A woman with her elderly mother

Whether it’s care for yourself or someone close to you, choosing the right live-in care provider means asking a number of questions. With so many providers to choose from, how can you decide on the one best suited to your requirements?

Here are some essential questions to ask when you’re choosing a live-in care provider, either for yourself or a close relative or friend.

Will the care be tailored to me?

Ask about the process for setting up care and how you will be matched with a live-in carer.

The support you receive from a live-in care provider should be completely unique to your requirements. There should never be a one-size-fits-all approach. After all, everyone is different and has different needs.

Carers, too, come from all walks of life and have varying levels of experience. They also have a range of interests, which is why it’s important for your care provider to find the one that best suits your requirements and offer you a choice from a selection of profiles. You should also be able to call or video call them first.

A good live-in care provider will always arrange an initial meeting to talk through your full requirements face-to-face. This is an important meeting to discuss your daily routines, the support you need and the type of carer you’re looking for. They should also carry out a full risk assessment and outline any extra equipment that may be needed.

Introductory agencies will simply put you in contact with a carer, who’s often self-employed, letting you establish their daily duties and manage them going forward.

How is the carer trained and how will they be supported?

Some live-in care providers provide minimal training to their carers with no refresher training or extra support. Often agencies have self-employed carers on their books, providing them with no training at all. Rather than directly employing their carers, they may use agency staff instead.

Ask about the training provided – specifically what it covers and whether it is industry recognised. A regulated homecare provider should offer in-depth training to start with and regular refresher courses to keep their carers abreast of any changing requirements and to expand their skills.

You may also want to ask about the support that carer will receive. Supporting someone else can take its toll sometimes, and having an experienced manager can make all the difference if the carer is struggling with anything.

Who will pay and manage the carer?

Will you need to pay the carer directly? Are they self-employed or will you need to arrange payment of their tax, National Insurance or even a contribution to their pension? Who will manage the carer, including their appraisals and helping them to develop in their role? Or will all of this be handled for you?

This is one of the many differences between an introductory agency and a fully managed live-in care provider. While some families don’t mind paying a carer directly and managing them in their role, many others are relieved to know that all of this is taken care of for them.

There should be an experienced care manager on hand to resolve any issues with your loved one’s care in a timely manner, taking the pressure off you and your family.

What happens when the carer takes a break?

With some live-in care providers, you will be expected to arrange and manage cover for the carer’s breaks. A carer should have alloted down-time each day, and this may be more difficult if the person requiring care needs constant care and support.

Ask what support is available for the carer’s breaks and how handovers are managed.

A good live-in care company will provide support for these breaks, including the carer’s planned holidays and any last-minute illnesses, so you are never without. As at Helping Hands, if needed, daily breaks can be covered by the local Helping Hands branch, offering an hour’s respite for the live-in carer so they can return refreshed and recharged

Will the live-in care I receive be reviewed or checked?

A fully managed live-in care provider is fully regulated too. In England this is by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and in Wales by the Care Inspectorate Wales (CIW).

A regulated provider also means that their carers have gone through a detailed background check and thorough recruitment process to ensure they have the skills required to support you or your relative.

They also provide regular checks on the care that is provided, in the form of carer supervisions, and will provide refresher training or extra support and guidance if or when it’s needed.

What if my support needs change?

Support needs can change, and knowing that your live-in care provider can continue to support you through those changes is crucial. It may be that you have a progressive condition, such as dementia or multiple sclerosis, or that the support requirements increase over the years.

Some providers include complex care as part of their training programmes. These may include:

  • How to change catheters or stoma bags
  • Administering medication, including the more complex
  • Using specialist mobility equipment such as hoists or slide sheets

At Helping Hands, we have a team of registered nurses, all with experience within the NHS, and dementia specialists who can manage and advise on more complex care packages.

Don’t be afraid to ask your provider about the training they provide to their carers or about their experience.

Although support can often be arranged quickly, sometimes within as little as two days, it’s best to start these conversations early so you find the right live in care provider for you.

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