Getting Good Quality Support
Don’t put up with a care service that is not doing what they should. Tell them that it isn’t good enough.
Getting good quality support from a service
These are our tips for any support that comes from a service – a care service such as day care or care at home, or an ordinary service that lots of people use such as someone cleaning your house or looking after your garden.
- Be clear what you need the service to do – what, when, anything special you want.
- Be realistic about your health or other circumstances. Tell people if you need extra help with mobility or whatever.
- Check it out with other people, such as asking friends for recommendations. If it is a care service, ask about their quality inspections or check them out with the Care Inspectorate.
- Check out what it costs if you are paying for it yourself or if it comes as part of a flexible package that is paid for by the Council.
- Try to use all the common sense and experience you have for buying any service when you are looking for a care service or similar support.
- Independent advice services give a lot of good suggestions and can help you with the detailed arrangements. Check out what they can do. Even if you don’t use their help at the beginning, it is good to know the information is there in case you want it later on.
- Our experience is that the quality of most services come down to the people we have most contact with. Ask about the size of the team who will deliver the support and how consistent it will be.
- Look at their Equalities policy and see what they are saying about respect for older people or disabled people, or people from ethnic minority communities or LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) people. This is as much about their values and approach as having particular policies.
- Ask about staff training – what they do, how often staff get updated training, and whether it is optional or does everyone get training?
- Also ask about what support and supervision staff get. Staff will be better able to support you if there is someone they can ask for advice and who is checking on what they do.
- Make sure you know who to contact if you want something to change – such as ‘come on a Tuesday instead of a Monday’.
- Also know who to contact if you are not happy with anything.
- Consider asking a friend to come with you or be there when you use the service at first. Do this at the beginning and then from time to time if that feels right. It gives you a second opinion and is a good way to remind people providing services that there are other people in your life who are looking out for you.
- A lot of the tips on getting good support from individual people also apply here.
- Be sensible in what you want services to do, whoever is paying for it. For example, don’t expect that people can frequently change the times of delivering a service to you at a few hours’ notice. Treat people who give you support the respect they deserve.
- Trust your judgement. If something just doesn’t feel right, pause and check it out. If it still doesn’t feel right, say that you are not using the service anymore.
Getting good quality support from a Personal Assistant
These are our tips for any support that comes from a Personal Assistant – such as day care or care at home, or an ordinary service that lots of people use such as someone cleaning your house or looking after your garden.
- Be clear what you want to happen.
- When you meet people who are potential Personal Assistants, or ask someone you already know to give you support, think about their values and their approach as well as any skills or experience that are relevant. You want to feel comfortable with the person.
- Have a written agreement. It should say who is responsible for what, and what each of you do if there is something that you want to suggest. This is in addition to the employment aspects such as how much the person gets paid and holiday arrangements and so on.
- You can get advice on employment matters from an independent advice service or from SPEAN (Scottish Personal Assistant Employers’ Network). Click to link to site
- Think about things such as who pays for expenses. For example, if your Personal Assistant is helping you get out and you both go for a coffee or lunch – who pays for their lunch?
- Have a backup for times when the person is not well or on holiday.
- Talk to your Personal Assistant about any training or advice they would like to keep both of you well and safe. Some examples are being able to lift you if you have difficulty moving by yourself, or knowing what to look for if there is a risk of you becoming unwell.
- Allow yourself a bit of time to get used to having more support and developing a different type of relationship with someone.
- Be open to suggestions from the person giving you support as they get to know you.
- If it ever doesn’t feel right, pause on the support for a bit. If it still doesn’t feel right, make the change.
- An independent advice or broker service can give you good advice at any point.
Getting good support from a friend or relative
These are our tips when a friend or relative is giving you support frequently.
- Some people find this arrangement works well. Others find it is not a good idea – they want their family and friends to stay in those roles.
- The points we’ve suggested about Personal Assistants applies here as well.
- Have a written agreement in the same way as you would for a Personal Assistant, even if the person is not being paid.
- If they are getting paid, regard this as a PA role.
Getting good care from a care home
You can get information on care homes in each part of Scotland from the Care Inspectorate and from Scottish Care. www.scottishcare.org
- Your aim is still to find out what meets your circumstances and the sort of life you want.
- Find out what the options are for different types of housing and support – sheltered housing, care village, residential places. People talk about them as if they are all the same, but they are not. They provide different types of support.
- Check out the financial aspects. This is what worries a lot of people. You want your decisions to be based on what the position really is. There is more on this site in the note on the money side of things.
- Find out what happens on matters such as paying towards your care when you share a house with someone else and it is their home too. This is better than planning based on an assumption that turns out to be wrong.
- Visit several places, and go back if you want a second look – just as you would if you were looking for a house.
- Look at any care home with family and friends. Each person will notice things the others miss.
- If any service makes you feel it is a hassle to be looking around and asking questions, then this is probably a sign that their attitudes to people are not right.
- Would you feel at ease living here?
- Is it a place where people are out doing their own thing? Are people keeping up interests and contact with friends?
- You might be looking at using a care home for just a short while – such as when other family members are away or when you need a higher level of support for a while. Ask about the support you will get to help you keep in touch with what is happening and with getting ready to move back home.
- Keep in touch with friends and people who know you after you make a change in where you live or go to a care home
Where to get more information
Scottish Personal Assistant Employers’ Network (SPAEN) gives advice on many aspects of employing a Personal Assistant: http://www.spaen.co.uk/
Care Inspectorate: http://www.scswis.com/
The Care Inspectorate is the official body which inspects care services in Scotland. Many services that provide support have to register with them – although it does not cover ordinary services that are used by lots of other people as well as by people who are older or disabled or have other need. They check the quality of services and make sure they are reaching the right standards. There is a section on their website to let you find care services near to where you live.
Scottish Care: www.scottishcare.org
Scottish Care is the membership organisation for independent organisations which provide care at home and/or care homes.
You may also find these pages useful on this site