What services and support is available to help me live independently?
Although you may have care needs, there is a wide range of services and support available to help you continue to live independently and in your own home.
This help includes social care, personal care and practical care.
Help Around the Home
Help in your own home is available whatever your level of need. You can pay for these services privately, or you may be entitled to help from your Local Authority. To find out if you’re entitled to any help you’ll need to undergo a Community Care Assessment. Our article ‘Community Care Assessments’ will give you more information on this.
The type of help you could receive in your home includes:
• Help with getting in and out of bed
• Help with dressing
• Help with laundry and cleaning your home
• A meal delivery service, or help to prepare food for yourself
• Chiropody, hairdressing and other personal care services
• Emotional care and support
More detailed information on these services and paying for them is available in our article ‘Care Services in Your Own Home’.
If you want to continue to live at home when you are disabled or elderly you could consider adapting the house that you already live in to meet your needs, or moving to one which better meets your needs. There is both practical and financial support available to help you do this.
You can receive help to adapt your house to your needs in the form of:
• The Disabled Facilities Grant
• The Independent Living Fund
• Free or subsidised equipment from the council
• Grants and loans
• VAT relief and council tax reduction
More information on help with adapting your home is available in our article ‘Help with Equipment and Living Arrangements’.
Another option you could consider, so that your care needs are met and you can continue to live independently, is living in a supported housing scheme. These schemes offer various types of housing and accommodation and the level of support they provide will depend on your needs. Our article ‘Supported Housing Schemes’ provides more information on this type of housing.
Even though you are living independently it’s important that you continue to interact with others and get out and about if possible. This is important for your emotional and mental wellbeing. Most Local Authorities provide social and recreational opportunities for elderly and disabled people who are living independently.
These activities may take place at a day centre or other venues in the local community. Typical activities include day trips, lectures, themed events, educational sessions, sessions about help with independent living skills and parties.
These activities may be free or subsidised and there will usually be financial help available to go towards paying for them. Ask your Local Authority what is on offer and what financial support is available.
Remember that although you may want to continue to live as independently as possible, sometimes you or your carer will need a break. Temporary respite care can help you to live independently for longer.
Respite care may include a holiday, a short stay in a residential care home or having a helper in your own home. More information on this is available in our article ‘Respite Care Options’.
Ask a social worker or your Local Authority for information on the services and support available in your area which could help you to live independently and at home.
How Do I Pay for Care Assistance
If you are a carer there may be times when you need to arrange for some kind of extra care, or you need a break or holiday. There is help available to assist you in both paying for and arranging this care. This article will outline some of the main forms of help available.
The options for paying for care assistance are:
• Paying for care assistance services yourself
• The person you care for paying for the services
• The Local Authority paying for the services
• A charitable organisation paying for the services
If you would like help from the Local Authority the person you care for should undergo a Community Care Assessment.
The help you need with care assistance covers a wide range of services. These include:
• Respite care
• Help in the home, such as help with meals and personal care
• Day care
• Aids and equipment, such as adapting your home
Increasingly Local Authorities are providing what are known as ‘carers services'. These carers’ services encompass anything which helps the carer to look after the person they care for. Examples of carers’ services on offer might include help with paying for taxi fares to get to medical appointments, a mobile phone to help the carer and person they care for to stay in touch, or access to free or subsidised counselling and emotional support.
Carers’ services are quite a new concept and some Local Authorities have been quicker to take them up than others. It’s definitely worth contacting your Local Authority or talking to a social worker to see what’s on offer though.
Direct payments can give carers more choice and flexibility over the care services they use. Local Authorities use direct payments so that the carer can use this money to pay for services. This is the alternative to social services arranging the care for you.
Direct payments can only be used to pay for care which the person you care for has been assessed as requiring. If you receive direct payments it’s important to keep good records as to how they are spent, so that you can account for them to the Local Authority.
If you need to get away for a break, your Local Authority may be able to offer you or the person you care for vouchers to pay for alternative care while you are away. The vouchers can be used to pay for services from the Local Authority or another approved organisation.
There are a number of charity and voluntary organisations which are specifically run to provide support, information and advice to carers. Your local council should be able to advise you on any groups available in your area. Alternatively you could research organisations who specialise in the disability which the person you care for has.
Such organisations can offer invaluable help to carers, including:
• Information on financial help and availability
• Help with applying for financial help
• Support groups and counselling
• Free or subsidised complementary therapies
• Free or subsidised training
If you are a carer and need a break both you and the person you care for are entitled to an assessment. The council may provide you with practical and financial help with respite care. The monetary help you receive will usually be dependent on the financial assessment of the person you care for though.
Some charities will also provide carers with respite care funding and services.
What is Community Care Assessment?
Community care assessments are organised by the local authority so that they can decide what a person’s care needs are and the services that they require.
Sometimes people worry about a community care assessment, so we have compiled some FAQs and answers to some of the most common queries and concerns.
How do I Get a Community Care Assessment?
Individuals may be referred for a community care assessment by someone such as a GP, nurse or social worker. Alternatively if you think you may need a community care assessment or feel that a friend or relative does, ask the local authority social services department about organising one.
Where Will the Community Care Assessment Take Place?
Usually community care assessments can be carried out in the patient’s own home. In fact this is often seen as a good idea because it gives the assessors a good idea of the patient’s capabilities to live independently and the support that would make things easier for them.
If for some reason the community care assessment can’t take place in the patient’s home, it will be arranged somewhere which is convenient for the patient and transport can usually be arranged to the location if necessary.
If a patient has been admitted to hospital and has to have their community care assessment there, an assessor may also visit their home in order to best assess their circumstances.
Who Will Carry Out the Community Care Assessment?
There may be more than one person carrying out the community care assessment but one of them will almost always be from the local authority social services department. Other healthcare professionals often contribute as well and may be present at one of the sessions – some community care assessments are carried out over more than one visit.
Other healthcare professionals include GPs, doctors and nurses. Healthcare professionals can also contribute to a community care assessment by providing information without attending any visits.
What Will Happen During the Assessment?
The community care assessment will assess the patient in terms of their care needs and their individual circumstances. Their finances will also be assessed. The patient will be involved in the care assessment process as much as possible so that the best solutions can be arrived at. Their carer, if they have one, will usually also be present and will have input on the patient’s situation and needs.
The patient and/or their carer will be asked what sort of help they feel would be useful and how it could best be delivered.
During the assessment, if practical, the patient will be asked questions. If not the carer and the patient’s family as well as healthcare professionals will provide information about the patient’s circumstances. Some of the questions may be of a personal or sensitive nature so it is best to be prepared for this in advance. However, any information will be treated sensitively and confidentially.
You could be asked questions on the following:
• Your health – for example current medical conditions and medication
• Your mental health - for example what your memory and your moods are like
• Mobility Hearing, eyesight and speech
• Personal care – your abilities to wash, dress and eat and go to the toilet
• Household tasks - how you are managing with cooking, cleaning etc.
• Lifestyle – tor example the help you receive from friends and family
• Finances- to assess whether you’ll have to pay for any care you will receive
Do I have to choose my own carer?
No you don’t have to choose a carer for yourself, nor do you have to be the carer’s employer. Being an employer and going through the recruitment process is something that many people who need a carer are put off by. If you don’t wish to go through this process yourself, your carer may be arranged by the Local Authority but this is subject to your financial situation.
Alternatively, you could source a carer through a care agency. This way you will have a level of say in who is employed as your carer but the agency will deal with administrative and employment issues. If you are happy to do so, you can find and employ a carer yourself by advertising privately.
How do I choose a care agency?
There are many care agencies available. Ask to see each care agencies’ “statement of purpose”. This should outline information such as what services they provide and who they are aimed at, their processes, terms and insurance details. Additionally, talk to the agency about how they choose their staff and what safety policies they have in place. Also ask about other agency policies on issues such as lending and borrowing money, accepting gifts and the selling of goods and services. We would recommend that you visit the Care Quality Commission website.
How do I know I am safe with a carer?
You should make sure that any carer you choose, whether directly, through an agency or via the Local Authority, has had an enahanced Criminal Records Bureau check. You can pay to run this check on carers yourself – you need to contact the Criminal Records Bureau. Any agency who employs carers should make sure they have all had CRB checks. Ask any potential agencies about this.
At Kent Social Care Professionals, we ensure all our carers have an enhance CRB less than 12 months old, we also obtain references covering the last 3 years. We take copies of original identification documents and induct and train all our carers to ensure they meet and exceed national minimum standards
What should I look for in a carer?
Most important will be to find a carer who can meet your care needs. Whether you are choosing a carer through a care agency or advertising for one directly, you should think carefully in advance. List your daily routine and the aspects of care that you need help with. Think about any specialist skills that they may need, for example is a driving licence essential, do they need to do a lot of lifting, will they need to stay overnight, will they need to be very flexible about the hours they can work?
As well as practical care needs, it will also be important that you and a potential carer get on well on a professional level and that you feel comfortable around them. Think about what is important to you in a carer. Do you mind if they are a smoker (although they couldn’t legally smoke in your house or car), must they like pets, do you ideally want a carer with similar interests to you?
Kent Social Care Professionals will come and meet you in your home and talk through your care and support needs. We will also conduct a ‘risk assessment’. This will help us to find a carer who matches your specific needs.
Can anyone help me choose a carer?
Some charities may be able to help and provide advice on the process of choosing a carer. Ask charities for the disabled or elderly in your area or research charities which specialise in your condition.
Additionally, you should always ask for and take up the references of a potential carer. This will provide you with extra supporting evidence with which to make an informed decision.
If you wish to continue living independently in your own home and would like to employ a carer to help you do this, there are a number of things which you need to bear in mind. You’ll need to think about how to find and choose a carer, payment of the carer and employment issues.
How do I find a carer?
There are three main options for getting a carer:
• Having a carer provided by the Local Authority. This means they will arrange everything for you, and they will be the carer’s employer.
• Going through a care agency to get a carer. This gives you more freedom than having a carer provided directly by the Local Authority, but you still won’t have to deal with employment issues. You will pay the care agency and they will be the carer’s employer.
• You can find a carer yourself and advertise for one directly. This means you get the most freedom but also means you have the responsibilities of an employer.
How do I pay for a carer?
If you want to receive help paying for a carer, you’ll need to undergo a health and social care assessment with a medical professional sent by your Local Authority. If it is agreed that you need support in order to be able to live independently in your own home you’ll usually receive Direct Payments. Direct Payments are payments from the council to a disabled or elderly person, so that they can arrange their care and support services themselves. More detail is available on them in our article ‘Direct Payments’.
Once you know how much money you are eligible to receive in terms of Direct Payments you’ll be able to work out what you will pay the carer and how many hours you would like them to work. If the Direct Payments don’t cover your preferences, you can add to them with your own money.