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Support to live independently

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The Care Act passed in April represents a seminal shift in the way social care is planned and delivered.

At its heart is an emphasis on the individual needs of the people using services and the promotion of independence and wellbeing. For home care this means a move away from restrictive care practices based on what people are unable to do towards what they can do and enabling them to be more in control of their lives.

A new guideline from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) on homecare aims to help commissioners and providers meet the requirements of the Care Act by supporting the design of home care to maintain and enhance people’s independence and meet the changing needs of individuals. Its recommendations are based on the best available evidence and expert opinion of what is the most effective way to provide care and offer value for money at the same time.

The new guideline features key recommendation for both providers and commissioners of home care. For example, it says that they should ensure that support is delivered through a coordinated team to promote integrated working and foster good communication between care providers and recipients of care. This team may include health and social care practitioners, advocates for service users and other care providers. The guideline also recommends that home care support is considered for older people with low to moderate needs to avoid, delay or reduce future dependency on health and social care services.

Other key recommendations include things like the need to recruit, support and train home care workers appropriately and that care visits lasting less than 30 minutes should not be commissioned, unless the care worker is known to the individual, it is for a specific time-limited task such as checking if someone is safe and well, and it is part of a wider package of care.

As chair of the independent committee that developed this guideline, I am aware that there will be challenges associated with implementing this guideline, such as funding. However, many of the recommendations do not require additional money, just a change in current practice. But whatever challenges we face, our aim must always be to ensure high quality, sustainable home care for those who need it.

Bridget Warr, chief executive, UK Home Care Association

Column sponsored and supplied by NICE

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