Where to Start?
A short guide to home care


back to Homecare Planning

Home care, sometimes called home help or home support, is care provided in your own home to help maintain independence so your loved ones can continue living in their own home.

It often involves regular visits from a carer to support elderly people with:

  • General cleaning or heavy housework
  • Washing, bathing, or showering
  • Toileting, hygiene, and continence care
  • Healthy eating, drinking, and medication schedules
  • Shopping & collecting prescriptions
  • Washing and ironing
  • Dressing and personal grooming
  • Paperwork and bills

The process of looking for care can also feel overwhelming – especially if it’s the first time you have had to think about it. Each person’s care needs are different, and home care often includes specialist care for elderly people who require personal care, or those with Dementia, Alzheimer’s, Cancer, or those at the end of their life.

One of the important differences with care in your own home is that you can start with as little help as you like, and then grow over time as needs change. A good home care service should provide you with a flexible arrangement, but also offer consistency from the same visiting carer where possible.

The right care needs to suit the individual and their circumstances. But, before making any decisions about the type of care to choose, here are a few questions that will help you.

Questions to consider.

Start by writing down a brief summary of your relative’s situation, considering:

  • What sort of support do they need?
  • How urgently is the support needed?
  • How much support do they currently have from family, friends and neighbours?
  • How much time and involvement can family/friends provide and commit to?
  • How involved do they want to be in decisions about their care?
  • How capable are they of making decisions about their own care?
  • What are their expectations?
  • Do they live on their own?
  • Do they have a good network of family and friends around them or are they isolated or lonely?
  • Is being independent important to them?
  • What is important to them?
  • How active are they?
  • Are they aware of their surroundings?
  • Do they find it easy to make new friends and try new activities?
  • Are their health needs going to improve or deteriorate?

Once you have answered the questions above, you should be in a much better position to identify the right care.

Like all decisions we make, you may not always get it right the first time. Things can change quickly, so it’s best to know what options are available now and when things change.

The earlier you can start the conversation with your loved ones about care the better, and you might find it valuable to read our article ‘Starting the Conversation about Care’. It takes time to research all the different options in your area and it is much easier to do this when you are not dealing with an emergency or a relative who is no longer able to discuss anything rationally.

care home care trustontap

What is home care?

Care at home can range from a carer visiting once a week to overnight care or around the clock care live-in care in your own home. This can be provided by:

  • Domiciliary Care Agencies
  • Self-employed carers
  • Introductory agencies
  • Social services
  • NHS
care home care trustontap

Domiciliary care agencies usually have a bank of carers. Visits can be very short (as little as 15 minutes) and the carer can change according to the agency’s rota. Many of the carers are on zero-hour contracts and paid close to the minimum wage. Domiciliary care agencies are regulated by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) as they manage the care for you. Due to the cost of their operations, domiciliary care agencies are usually the most expensive option.

Self-employed carers are able to manage their own rota and set their own rates. They are usually more experienced and able to build up a relationship with the person they care for but they are currently unregulated. Self-employed carers may advertise in their local shop or you may hear of them by word of mouth.

Introductory agencies will introduce you to a pre-vetted, self-employed carer. They should have done checks on the carer to ensure they are qualified, referenced and DBS checked and can provide high-quality care. TrustonTap is an online introductory agency. Using the latest technology, TrustonTap can match you with the best self-employed carers in your area. The carers set their own hours and availability. They are much better paid and committed to providing excellent care.

Although defined as an ‘Introductory agency’ by CQC, TrustonTap has worked with local authorities in the region to establish a quality standard in which to measure all the carers and to ensure that they are capable and qualified to deliver excellent care. Carers that fulfill all the criteria of the TrustonTap quality standard are endorsed with the QPC Qualified Professional Carer accreditation. Learn more about our quality care.

Qualified Professional Carer QPC Logo

Both Social Services and the NHS can provide care at home if their criteria are met. They usually outsource the care to domiciliary care agencies but if you apply for a Personal Budget, you can make your own decisions about who to use to provide caregiving you more choice and control over who comes into the home. Families can ‘top-up’ care provided by social services but cannot ‘top-up’ care provided by the NHS. This is because the NHS is a free health service and has to provide for all health care needs.

What options are there aside from care at home?

Assisted living or Extra care housing

Assisted living accommodation is usually housing that has been designed for the elderly or disabled. This is also known as Sheltered Housing. The housing will have modifications and adaptions to make life easier but enable residents to maintain their independence. There will usually be a warden on hand in case of emergency, communal areas for residents and activities on offer. The level of care and support available will vary depending on the scheme. Some schemes are limited to a warden, whilst others offer domestic help, personal care and nursing care.

Private assisted living accommodation schemes may require you to buy or lease your house or flat. The standard of the accommodation and facilities on offer vary from scheme to scheme. Some schemes have rules that allow only residents who have a certain level health and independence. Other schemes are linked to a care home. This is called Close Care Housing.

Residential care and Nursing homes

A residential care home provides 24-hour care for its residents. Usually residents have their own room with ensuite bathroom. There are communal areas for residents and activities on offer. All meals are cooked for residents and personal care provided (help washing and dressing). Medication can be administered. Care is managed and provided by the care home and costs between £350 and £1,500 a week depending on location and standard of accommodation.

Nursing Homes are for those of us with more complex needs which requires the services of a qualified nurse or specialised carer. There are higher staff-resident ratios in a nursing home and nurses can change dressings, give injections and help with PEG feeding for example. Costs of nursing homes are normally 25% higher than care homes and can be up to £2,000 per week.

For a more detailed look at the difference between home care and care homes please see our article Care Home versus Home Care – what is the difference?

home care planning

Advice & Support for managing the cost of care

Thoughts will often move quickly to the cost of care, which is of course an important consideration. However this can be difficult to address, but there is financial help available.

financial help carers trustontap
Financial Help & Support

What financial help can I get?

It can all be a bit overwhelming but there are several really helpful websites that will help you identify benefits that you may be missing or costs that can be cut.

Continue reading
home carers trustontap

How much does it cost to have a home carer?

The amount you pay for care at home or home care will largely depend on the level of care you need, the type of provider you choose, and often where you live in the country. 

Continue reading
home care prices trustontap
Financial Help & Support

Paying for your Own Care

The cost of domiciliary care in your own home can be expensive if you are funding it entirely yourself. While organisations like TrustonTap will work hard to keep the costs to you as low as possible, you are well-advised to seek professional advice if you are entering into any form of long-term commitment.

Continue reading

Whatever care & support you need, we are here to help.

Give us a call on 0808 278 1112, or request a callback.

find a carer