New guidance from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) aims to help older people maintain their independence for longer.
NICE is now advising home care services to prioritise older people’s unique needs so that they can be treated with dignity.
The new quality standard encourages providers to “ditch the one size fits all approach” and use home care plans that describe what each person wants and how to meet those needs.
With estimates predicting that almost a quarter of people in England will be over 65 in 2035, the new quality standard aims to help providers deliver high quality care amid the high demand for services.
Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive at NICE, said: “Home care should be flexible to each person's needs and wishes.
“It should not be about sticking to a rigid package of care, which is prescriptive to set hours and visits, with no emphasis on what is important to the individual.
“Older people using home care services should have a care plan that reflects what support they need, what is important to them, what they feel they can do, and what they want to be able to do.”
The guidance, which has six quality statements, offers specific advice for clinical commissioning groups (CCGs) in the commissioning of home care services.
In particular, the guidance advises commissioning services that ensure older people have a back-up provider if a missed or late visit is unavoidable.
However, the quality standard says that continuity of home care workers is a “priority for delivering person-centred care”.
Bridget Warr, chief executive of the UK Homecare Association, said: “Providing consistent care is vital, so having a team that is well versed and familiar with an individual’s needs means that high-quality person-centred care can be delivered.”
Furthermore, NICE advises that visits last at least 30 minutes except when short visits have been prearranged and should require exception reporting when this is the case.
This advice follows a report from trade union UNISON that revealed that 74% of councils were limiting home care visits to just 15 minutes during which time workers were being asked to help people to wash or prepare meals.
The guidance includes priorities for home care providers to help them make effective use of their staff, with their practice observed at least every three months.