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Panel discussion: What will consumers want from home care services in the future?

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A panel of social care experts have made their predictions about what the next generation of home care clients will demand from services in the future.

Speaking at the Care Show in Birmingham last week, the experts shared their expectations with UKHCA policy director Colin Angel.

Bluebird Care managing director Yvonne Hignell said: “People will want care to be accessible; they will want it to be seamless, so they want to go from one service to the next without having to go through a convoluted process; and they will want it to be agile – they want you to evolve with their evolving needs.

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“We should never, ever, as a home care sector, loose someone to residential care. We should be able to maintain someone in their own home for as long as possible.”

Max Wurr, policy and communications director at City and County Healthcare echoed Hignell’s comments, adding that the next generation of consumers needing at-home care will be more demanding and tech-savvy.

“I think we are at an interesting moment demographically because the cohort that’s now moving into needing more care is the baby boomer generation. So these are the people that grew up with the welfare state, they grew up as consumers and they grew up with an expectation that they should have services that fit around them, rather than having to fit around services,” he said.

“So I think we are going to find increasingly that service users and their family members will be more vocal about what they expect. And I think we shouldn’t underestimate the extent to which they will embrace technology. People in their 50s, 60s and 70s are quite happy with using Whatsapp and Facebook and I don’t think we can continue to operate on the expectation that this is a generation that’s not interested in embracing those tools.”

Also speaking on the panel, Simon Hewett-Avison, assistant director of services at Independent Age said the home care sector can expect and increased demand for choice and control, but it needs to be mindful that there are safeguards in place to protect vulnerable people.

“We receive a lot of safeguarding-related calls about those that may be in cognitive decline and the majority of abuse calls we receive are around financial abuse, so we need to ensure service users are protected. But I do think what people will still want in the future is independence, control and dignity.”

Representing the Local Government Association, whose members buy home care services on constrained budgets, deputy chief executive Sarah Pickup shared her hopes for the investments that local authorities will make in the future.

“What we desperately need is access to community-based services. Ideally, I would want councils to be spending a lot more on the services, support and community infrastructure that precede any need for eligible care services, in order to prevent the continuing escalation for that need for higher level services. So things like falls prevention.”

NHS Confederation founder and CEO Niall Dickson, whose NHS colleagues are also buying services from home care providers, said the needs of clients will vary by individual, but overall, their demands for home care services will be universal.

“Service users will ask from services to ‘keep me as well and independent as possible; keep me safe and connected; support my family carers to enable them to function as well as they can and give them the respite they need; and give me access to specialist support when I need it’,” he said.

The panel made their predictions at the UKHCA conference at the Care Show, which took place on October 9-10 at Birmingham NEC.

Tags : Bluebird CareCare ShowIndependent Agenhs confederationpanel discussionThe Care Show
Sarah Clarke

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