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Will the NICE Recommendations for Home Care Visits Work without Extra Funding?

Care workers should spend at least half an hour on home visits and offer personalised care to vulnerable people needing help to live at home, according to the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

NICE, who provide advice to UK government bodies to improve health and social care, have issued the new guidance after being informed that some carers were making visits of 15 minutes or less.

They have issued a number of recommendations aimed at improving home visits which, instead of a “one size fits all” approach, should be tailored to the person receiving care.

Home Care in the UK

Home care services include help with washing, dressing and eating and are often an essential way of ensuring people are able to continue to live in their own homes.

Unlike services provided by the NHS, people receiving homecare usually contribute towards the cost of care provided, with only the very poorest receiving any significant local authority help.

The costs of home care, for local authorities and those receiving care, is significant and likely to increase.

Almost half a million people received home care in England in 2013/14 – 80% of whom were over 65 years old.

Also, an estimated 1.5 million people who do not receive home care services rely on their friends or family for support with their day-to-day living.

What do NICE Recommend?

The new NICE guidelines include the following:

  • There should be no home visits of less than 30 minutes, except for follow-up appointments
  • People should continue to have the same care worker so that they become familiar and can build a relationship
  • Disabled and vulnerable people should be told in advance if their carer is going to be late or will not turn up
  • Carers should be trained to spot health problems such as dementia and diabetes.

A NICE spokesperson said that “Helping a person remain as independent as possible is an important component to maintaining their wellbeing.”

A Crisis in Social Care Funding

England has an ageing population, and demand for home care is expected to grow in the coming years with a prediction that, by 2035, almost 1 in 4 people in England will be aged 65 or older.

These predictions come at a time when the social care sector is facing up to a deepening crisis in care funding, something that NICE acknowledged when issuing their new guidance as extra funds are clearly needed to implement their recommendations.

Last month, health and care groups in the UK published a joint submission to the UK Treasury asking ministers to protect social care funding as they are currently doing for NHS funds.

With the prospect of better care options offered by the new Care Act, tailored to the specific needs of disabled and vulnerable people, an ageing population wanting to live independently in their own homes and the continuing importance of the right to respect for privacy and family life – enshrined in Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights – there are likely to be even greater budgetary challenges ahead.

Liz Perry is a solicitor in Slater and Gordon’s Court of Protection team who specialises in community care, human rights law and mental capacity law.

If you would like legal advice about any of the issues raised in this blog, call Slater and Gordon Lawyers for a free consultation on freephone 0800 916 9046 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you.

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