NICE is now advising home care services to prioritise older people’s unique needs so that they can be treated with dignity.

You can see the full guidance here.

The new quality standard encourages providers to “ditch the one size fits all approach” and use home-care service plans that describe what each person wants and how to meet those needs. Care of the elderly is fraught with challenges, including staffing and budgetary constraints. Social care has seen a 40% reduction of its budget at local authority level in the last five years to a figure of £18.6bn compared with a current health budget of £126bn. Integration between health and social care is vital to look after an ageing population. The recent Age UK report “Later Life in the UK” gave a stark illustration of the scale of the challenge. The data in this report sets out the issues and imperatives both for us today and for the future in how we provide care for our older people. The statistics show that 11.6 million people are aged 66 or above and 2 million people aged 76 and over are living alone.  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 Lang, 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 that 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 (CCG) in the commissioning of home-care services. In particular, the guidance advises commissioning services that ensure older people have a backup 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.”

There is little doubt that we are facing some real challenges in the health and social care workforce. The catastrophising of the state of health and care brings great cause for alarm for many people, but the guidelines will hopefully enable everyone to give a more urgent profile for a solution to the pressures that we are seeing and improve the care of our older people.

At Anthony Collins Solicitors we recognise that sadly it is the most vulnerable in society who often have the most difficulty accessing the health and social care services that they desperately need or struggle to cope with sub-standard care. Our solicitors are experts in community care claims and can help with both the process to secure the health and social care you need and help if the care provided to you is inadequate or unsafe. We have recently expanded our community care team to include Nsiem Akhtar, who, as an ex-social worker, comes with a wealth of experience in this area.

We, therefore, welcome the proposed changes to these NICE guidelines and hope to see further similar changes designed to help our older people gain access to appropriate care at home and to put the needs of the individual first.

Further information

For more information regarding cases arising from community care matters, please contact Stephanie Moustache,  our specialist solicitor Sarah Huntbach or  Nsiem Akhtar, who will be happy to speak with you on an initial free, no-obligation basis. You can find out more about the work we do on our website.