Earlier this year, 57 people shared their experiences via focus group discussions and 1-1 conversations, and 34 people shared their feedback via online surveys. Healthwatch Gloucestershire volunteers also carried out research to assess how easy it is for people to find information and access paid care at home services for themselves and their loved ones.
Based on their findings, Healthwatch Gloucestershire has made the following recommendations to help services better meet people’s needs.
- The process for finding paid care at home services needs to be made easier to follow, with all information available in one place, both online and in print.
- Information should use clear and simple language and highlight the different types of paid care at home services, the things people should consider when seeking home care, and what they need to do.
- The costs of care should be completely transparent with no ‘hidden costs’ and this should be explained clearly and fully without people needing to ask for more information.
- Everyone looking for a care provider should be given a copy of the Gloucestershire Care and Support Guide, with printed and digital versions available.
- Face-to-face support and advice should also be available for those who require it.
- Information should be given to everyone looking for social care, irrespective of their financial situation, whether their care is paid for by the local authority or they are paying for private care.
- Paid home care services should work with different communities to understand and, where appropriate, to meet cultural requirements, for example, by using language people understand and providing appropriate food.
Helen Webb, Healthwatch Gloucestershire’s Manager said:
“Over the last few years, we’ve received mixed feedback from the public about paid care at home services, so we decided to investigate further. People have told us they struggle to find good, accurate and up-to-date information about what paid care at home is available. We’ve also heard from people who have received wonderful care at home as well as from those who have not. We have shared our full findings and recommendations for change with health and care leaders in Gloucestershire to help them understand and address people’s needs and concerns.”
Jenny Cooper, Head of Integrated Commissioning (Older People, Integrated Adults Commissioning Hub), NHS Gloucestershire/Gloucestershire County Council, said:
“We agree with the recommendations and find that they give a useful focus on improvements that can be made to our system. Some of these are already in development and others can be enhanced as suggested… some of the key messages have been heard from other sources such as carer feedback, so we recognise them as areas to address… the report comes after a period of extreme and unprecedented strain on the care market and at a point when capacity is at an all-time low… Whilst as commissioners we want to ensure that the market can provide a personalised service to all individuals the reality is that this is sometimes difficult to achieve.”
Read our report, People’s experiences of paid care at home services in Gloucestershire, which includes case studies and public feedback alongside research findings.
Finding the right paid care so that 80-year-old Freda could return home from hospital
Freda is in her late 80’s and has lived on her own for the past 20 years, following the death of her husband. She has been living with dementia for the past seven years, and until the pandemic, remained living independently, although recently the family had noticed a deterioration in her health. Following some mobility issues in 2021, Freda was admitted to hospital.
Her family knew that Freda could not return home without a Social Services Assessment and a Care Package in place, but they were frustrated that it took six weeks for this to happen. During this time, they noticed that Freda was not doing well being away from her own home.
The family had no idea how or where to begin to find long-term paid home care for Freda. With no support and advice offered or easy to find, they described the process of finding paid home care as ‘a complete nightmare’. Freda’s daughter spent hours researching care providers. After coming across the Gloucestershire Care and Support Guide online, and then becoming aware of the Care Quality Commission’s website which shows ratings for care providers, she contacted several care providers.
The family quickly rejected those who showed no compassion or warmth over the phone, but eventually found the right provider for Freda’s care needs and their high standards of compassion and professionalism. The family are delighted with the care being provided and think that all the paid Care Workers who attend to Freda are wonderful.
Freda’s daughter Sarah said: “We are very happy with the way things have turned out with the care provider, although this is down to the research I undertook, and a little bit of luck. I am shocked at the lack of information and help given to families who are having to navigate the system in a short space of time. I strongly believe there needs to be better processes in place which are clear and easy to follow for anyone in this situation in the future.”
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