Staying safe, comfortable and happy with home care services
- Credit: Archant
It has been a challenging time for those using care at home services, as well as for their families and carers.
But, says Robert Treschi, director of Bluebird Care in Stevenage and North Herts, it is still possible to ensure customers remain safe and happy in their own homes.
Q: What is home care?
It is where we look after people in their home. Most of what we do at Bluebird Care is private care, but we also do social services care and NHS in home palliative care. Our main aim in everything we do is to make sure people are safe, happy and that they can stay at home as long as possible to keep their independence.
Q: What in home care services do you offer?
Care in the home can be anything from companionship to helping with food preparation, medication, personal care or shopping. We can offer anything from just one hour a week to 24-hour live-in care. We sit down with the customer and their family to agree a care plan. It is really important that at the heart of what we do, the person we look after remains most important of all. Their wishes will always be paramount.
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Q: How do you ensure safety in these times of Covid-19?
Good practice. We maintain exceptionally high safety standards in all our care at home services and have not had any cases of Covid-19 among staff or customers. We ensure that we implement effective infection control and adhere to Public Health England guidance on PPE – wearing masks, aprons and gloves, washing hands frequently and using hand sanitiser. If a customer is suspected of having Covid-19 then the carer will also wear eye protection – goggles or a face shield. At Bluebird Care we wore masks before they were made compulsory and have never been short of PPE.
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Q: How do you ensure standards are maintained?
We carry out spot checks to ensure carers are supervised and assisted. In addition, we offer carers a five-day classroom based training course. We believe in classroom face-to-face training as this is preferable to online training which doesn’t always provide the best experience. We have also undertaken additional NHS training to ensure our care team has the most up-to-date information for infection control. We never send a carer to a customer they have not met before. Not only is this good practice for the wellbeing of the customer, but it also reduces the number of people coming in and out.
Also there is guidance that says that live-in carers arriving from abroad can quarantine in a customer’s house. We do not agree with this and do not follow this practice so all live-in carers are UK based.
Q: What other changes have been made due to Covid-19?
We always strive to ensure the mental and emotional well-being of our customers – and this has been more important than ever in recent months. In home care for the elderly it is vital to give the carers plenty of time for interaction and companionship. Lockdown was especially difficult for those who were unable to enjoy visits from family and friends. This is still the case for many, and there are others who still cannot return to day centres or go out shopping. We therefore put even more emphasis on the friendship a carer can offer and ensure we are in constant touch with family members. The wellbeing of our customer is as important as the rest of the care we offer. We have also enhanced our focus on dementia care, as this has been particularly impacted by Covid-19. We have undertaken special training through a Virtual Dementia Tour, where our carers experience what it is like to have dementia.
Q: How important is it for your customers to stay in their own homes?
People feel more comfortable at home, where they have their belongings and their memories. Those of the generation we care for are often very independent and part of the challenge can be for them to understand they are entitled to help. We always stress there are some times in life that you are in a position to help others – and other times where you might need to accept help yourself. Receiving help in your own home can make this more acceptable.