A new report serves as a call to action to help people with dementia live well at home for longer. 'Dementia and homecare: driving quality and innovation', part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, presents a series of innovative practice examples from across the country. It also identifies ways to make these examples the norm. Dominic Carter, a policy officer with the United Kingdom Homecare Association and author of the report, considers why this work was required.
It is widely accepted that a majority of people living with dementia would choose to remain at home for as long as possible, in familiar surroundings and with the people they love, surrounded by the communities and friends they know.
Skilled homecare has a vital role to play in helping people to live as full a life as possible in their own homes.
Unfortunately, people living with the condition still face barriers to receiving care which could preserve or even improve their quality of life. Too often, people living with dementia are not offered a full range of services, such as Individual Service Funds or reablement. Many face ignorance, embarrassment and prejudice. All too frequently, dementia is the focus rather than their ambitions or preferences as individuals.
It doesn't have to be like this. Skilled homecare has a vital role to play in helping people to live as full a life as possible in their own homes. This might be through identifying changes in a person's condition and behaviour that could lead to timely diagnosis and support, providing person-centred care that responds to fluctuating needs or supporting family carers during a difficult time.
Homecare services are incredibly varied. They range from short, frequent visits to 24 hour, live-in care. The stereotypical image of a cup of tea being brought to someone is outdated, and examples in the report show homecare providers do so much more. They reconnect people with their communities, delivering dementia training to family members and offering complex packages of care to help people return home who would have otherwise remained in hospital.
Homecare providers should be recognised as facilitators of dementia care, support and information. They should be included in a multi-disciplinary approach that focuses on the aspirations of the individual and their family. They must be given the flexibility and appropriate contact time by commissioners across health and social care to shape services with and for the individual. Consistent training and the ability to pay competitive wages to create dementia care specific career pathways is essential to developing the workforce required.
As a society we must seek to promote quality dementia care in the community, helping people to live at home for as long as they are able.