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GUEST COLUMN: How home care and homeshare services are working together to improve outcomes

Amanda homeshare

Since its beginnings almost 40 years ago, homeshare is now regarded as a mainstream social care solution, and is an option that can run effectively alongside home care.  

Amanda Clarke, director at social enterprise Share and Care Homeshare, provides an insight into why homeshare works so well with a home care package, particularly for people with higher-level support needs. She explains the positive impact that home carers and homeshares can have on outcomes when working together, and how they are set to shape the future of service delivery. 

Increasingly, homeshare is being recognised as an invaluable support route for older people living within local communities. However, there remains a need to increase understanding even further on how homeshare can work effectively alongside home care, how it compliments care packages, and how, together, these options provide essential support for older people.

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Homeshare is a simple concept, which matches people who need an affordable place to live, typically aged 24 to 50, with older people who have a spare room and require companionship or low-level support. 

It provides a choice for older people who have no need or desire to downsize, or to move into residential care, or any of the other options that have previously been considered the more traditional routes. Fundamentally, homeshare meets the needs of those for whom these traditional choices are considered unsuitable and unwelcome. 

From a social care aspect, homeshare is a preventative option. It does not replace personal care. Instead, it runs alongside care packages to help those with lower-level support needs, and is incredibly effective at helping older people before they reach crisis point.

Having a homesharer provide practical help with daily tasks, such as preparing home-cooked meals, shopping, and gardening, along with the reassurance of someone sleeping in the house overnight, has proven to improve the wellbeing of people who require support, and falls risks are significantly reduced.

The roles of homesharers and home carers work seamlessly together, both providing very different levels of support, and with the average length of one of our homeshare arrangements reaching 17 months, homesharers can help people remain in their home longer, which enables home carers to provide support to the same person for a longer duration. 

As sharers do not provide personal or nursing care, there is no CQC requirement to regulate their services. However, reputable organisations will ensure that checks are undertaken to the same level as CQC regulated carers. The homeshare market takes this very seriously and follows rigorous vetting procedures, with robust safeguarding policies and procedures in place. Commonly, enhanced DBS, ID and credit checks are the first step, together with character and professional references from a variety of sources.

The home care workforce can signpost clients to homeshare arrangements quickly and easily. Homeshare UK, a national charity and membership body for the homeshare sector, lists providers across the country and is a useful source of information and advice.

Alternatively, people can be signposted to the self-referral route, which is also a simple process, and again they can either go via Homeshare UK or go direct to a homeshare organisation, such as Share and Care Homeshare.

The combined footprint of homeshare and home care on the healthcare economy, along with their positive impact on supporting older people at scale is significant; together they have an invaluable, and unique contribution that can drive change and improve outcomes.

What is the difference between a carer and a sharer?

A carer is formally trained to provide personal care and other regulated activities and therefore works under the guidelines of CQC regulations.

A sharer is a volunteer who is not permitted to provide personal care and lives in the home to give an agreed number of hours practical help and friendly companionship.

Both carers and sharers should have a current enhanced DBS and at least two references.

Community Interest Company (CIC), Share and Care Homeshare is the largest homeshare provider in the UK and offers a bespoke nationwide service.  Visit  www.shareandcare.co.uk

Tags : Amanda ClarkehomesharehomesharingShare and Care Homeshare
Sarah Clarke

The author Sarah Clarke