NICE guidelines on home care services: A summary

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence published guidelines on home care services last month.

These guidelines were produced in order to promote high-quality care services for older people.

Given that the WHO estimate that 23{005329dfb7bee03ab27e34e29b1b0e29a2462648c7188fd9e98135c32f2f6d5e} of the population will be 65 or over by 2035, there has never been a more important time to re-assess how to better support an ageing population.

These guidelines are the first that the NICE have given to the social care sector – in the past it has focused on NHS services.

This demonstrates the recognition that social and home care has a direct and significant impact on the NHS.

In this blog we summarise the guidelines on home care services and note some of the issues and opinions that surround them.

NICE guidelines on home care services: A summary

What is home care?

Home care refers to practical support for people who require help to remain living in their own residence.

This support can come in many forms, whether that’s helping a person wash and dress, or carrying out domestic tasks such as cooking and cleaning.

The principal aim of home care is to help people stay in their homes as long as possible.

Not only does this reduce the demand for already over-subscribed care home beds, but most importantly allows elderly people to remain in their homes if they wish – respecting their independence and dignity and in turn helping to maintain their well-being.

Indeed, studies have shown that remaining at home is of vital importance to those with dementia.

What are the NICE guidelines on home care services?

The guidance recommends a number of different things.

The most prominent recommendation was to make all visits last at least 30 minutes, except for follow-ups to a longer visit earlier in the day, for example to check if someone has taken medicine.

There has been recent outcry over “flying care visits” of just five minutes or less which result in recipients having to choose between being washed or being dressed and not receiving the attention they need.

Additionally, NICE recommend that:

  • people know their carers, using the same ones as much as possible
  • carers be trained to recognise and respond to health problems such as dementia and diabetes
  • there is greater coordination between the NHS and care services
  • older people are told in advance if their carer is going to be late or not turn up – and plans put in place for those at risk

What impact might these guidelines have?

There’s definitely a feeling that good quality home care could actually save money as it is less expensive than care homes or hospitals.

Professor Gillian Leng, NICE deputy chief, stated:

“Without good support, older people can suffer from social isolation, malnutrition or neglect,” she said.

“They may also be at risk of injuring themselves, perhaps from a fall or other accident.”

But while there are a number of potential benefits of these guidelines, are they a reality?

George McNamara, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Society stated:

“While these guidelines have the potential to transform the way care home care is given to people…they run the risk of becoming a well-meaning document that gathers dust as opposed to driving change.”

With more funding cuts in the social care sector, it may not be possible for these guidelines on home care services to become a reality.

Spending plans are due to be set out next month – we’ll be following the outcome closely.

If you’d like any more information on the NICE guidelines on home care services you can visit their website here.

Alternatively, if you’d like to find out more about DBS Checks for those working in social care don’t hesitate to give us a ring.