Mental Health – An Issue for Domiciliary Care


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It’s not unusual for people who need long-term domiciliary care to experience mental health issues or distress. That’s why Norman Lamb has stated that he wants to use the Care Bill to establish clearer responsibilities for all adult social care providers for recognising and responding appropriately to mental health concerns.


Depending on what the requirements finally look like there are certain to be implications domiciliary care providers and for staff training. And I believe that the efficiency and effectiveness of management systems will be highlighted as important in helping domiciliary care providers to meet the expected obligations.

Continuity of care

Marked changes in mood or behaviour can be typical signs that a service user might be experiencing mental health issues. But what’s the difference between somebody who is having a bit of an off day compared to somebody whose demeanour and interactions are showing a more significant or long-term deterioration?

Continuity is always a feature of the best levels of care. And clearly, the better a care worker knows a service user, the more chance there is of them spotting any cause for concern. Continuity of care also results in better relationships where service users would be more open about their troubles.

And continuity of care is definitely an issue related to management systems. Manual and spreadsheet based approaches make it so much harder than it needs to be.  On the other hand, continuity is a key priority in the program that we use in CareForIt to automate the production of staff rosters. We put a lot of effort into perfecting this aspect of the system because it is so fundamental to delivering excellent levels of care.

Efficient rostering also means fewer missed or late appointments. Somebody experiencing depression as a result of their condition isn’t going to be helped by a series of late or overly brief visits from the person who should be caring for them. And where appointments become rushed because of poor scheduling, there’s less time to find out how somebody is feeling and whether their mental health might be suffering.

Record keeping and communication

Sometimes a pattern of mental health issues can take a while to become clear and sometimes care workers are possibly not looking for the signs.  Care plans should have the flexibility to include monitoring for potential concerns where health professionals have identified service users who might be at risk.

Where care plans are available on the move, and remote and immediate updating of records and notes is possible, there’s more chance of effective monitoring and reporting happening.

Similarly a web-based system that allows relatives and carers to note any concerns is likely to be more effective than systems that rely on phone calls or emails reaching the right people and then having manual updating of records.

Information sharing

Knowing how to respond appropriately to concerns about service users’ mental health is another issue.  Where this involves referral to healthcare professionals, having accurate information will help enormously in determining the most effective intervention as quickly as possible.

And, as always, there are security and confidentiality issues associated with information sharing.

A secure web-based home care management system has a number of advantages.  Not only is it easy to update and organise service user information, it’s also possible to provide secure access to that information to a GP or other professional to make an informed assessment.

It’s clear that the Care Bill will place a number of additional responsibilities on domiciliary care providers.  It surely makes sense to look at how effectively your management systems will support you in meeting those responsibilities.

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Dan Farrell-Wright

Director, CareForIt

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