Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Caremark Thanet Will Be at The Ageless Thanet 50+ Festival

Caremark Thanet will be at the Ageless Thanet 50+ Festival on Sunday 3 September 2017. The event is being held at St George’s School in Broadstairs – CT10 2LH for those using a satnav. Admission is free and the event is open from 10.00-16.00.

Caremark Thanet is proud to be an age-friendly business and very pleased to be involved with the 50+ festival. We will be there to offer advice about our care services and advice about domiciliary care in general. However, there will be quite a bit more at the festival for you to see and do.

There will be the chance to take part in various taster sessions during the day. For example, how about giving Tai Chi a go. Believe it or not, Tai Chi developed as a martial art in China. Today, however, it is practised more for its health promoting posibilities. You’ve probably seen people practising Tai Chi and noticed their elegantly smooth movements. Tai Chi also helps develop deep breathing and relaxation. There is evidence to suggest that practitioners lower their stress levels, improve mobility, gain muscle strength and improve their posture.

If not Tai Chi, why not belly dancing, or woodwork, or pottery or boccia? Boccia…

Of course, no festival worthy of its name would be complete without somewhere to eat and drink. This year there will be a food court where hot and cold refreshments will be avaialable.

There will, of course, be much more than what has been described above. If you come along, drop by our stand and say hello. We’ll be delighted to see you.

Garry Costain is the Managing Director of Caremark Thanet, a domiciliary care provider with offices in Margate, Kent. Caremark Thanet provides home care services throughout the Isle of Thanet. Garry can be contacted on 01843 235910 or email You can also visit Caremark Thanet's website at

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Important Things You Should Know about Choosing Home Care

Choosing Care for a Relative is Stressful 

It is I'm afraid. The very thought of having to pay for domiciliary care is something that few of us particularly want to – well think about. In the world of marketing, paying for care services is referred to as a distress purchase, something we have to buy but wish we didn’t. For many people, however, the difficulty they experience in finding information is the worst part of looking for home care. Indeed, in 2014 the Care Quality Commission conducted a survey that found choosing care (home care or residential) for a relative was more stressful than buying a house or going through a divorce. Whilst the stress can probably not be eliminated, access to reliable information would certainly ease things.

The challenge of finding reliable information should not come as a shock. Care providers are no different from any other supplier of goods or services. People who sell their expertise – any type of expertise - have always been reluctant to giveaway information. The view has been (and still is) that expertise brings with it membership of a priesthood. Membership of the priesthood is based on knowledge. This knowledge is granted only to those who are members of the priesthood….

Where Can I Find Information? 

This article deals principally with domiciliary care. Where appropriate, though, I do make reference to residential care. It won’t answer every question, but it will, in many cases, point you in the right direction. The health and social care landscape is not an easy one to view. The danger is that you may find yourself looking at a too expansive panorama whereas what you really need is to identify and focus on just one particular feature of the scene. Too much information is sometimes as bad as too little.

If you are looking for a domiciliary care provider an excellent place to start is You can type your location into its database and you will be given all the homecare providers in that locality. Many of these home care companies will have reviews provided by their customers. There is a companion site for residential care, You will also find some useful articles on both sites.

Age UK has an excellent website, where you will find a quite extensive range of information. There are local Age UK centres, also. There may be one near you. The Age UK website has a facility for you to type in your postcode and find your nearest local centre. If you wish; you can also telephone Age UK.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) is a must visit website for anyone researching care companies. The CQC is the body that regulates all health and social care providers in England. Any provider which has been inspected – and most have been inspected by now, unless they are newly formed - will have a report on the CQC’s website. Once you have found a few providers it is a very good idea to see what the CQC has to say about them. There is also a wealth of information to be found on the site.

The United Kingdom Home Care Association (UKHCA) is another site that allows you to search for local home care providers. You may find some useful information here. It is, however, very much oriented towards providers.

I should declare an interest at this point. My blog, Home Care in Thanet, has quite a few useful articles about different aspects of home care. I will provide links in this article to other articles on my blog that I think might be worth your while looking at.

Who Pays for My Home Care? 

Social care provided at home is financed by yourself, by social services or partly by social services and partly by yourself. To qualify for social services support there are two tests: a needs assessment and a means test. Under normal circumstances, you will be entitled to a care needs assessment. If you are assessed as having an eligible need; you will then be required to have a means test. This is an assessment of your ability to pay. The test measures your savings and your income. At the moment, your home is not included in the assessment (it is for residential care). You may recall the controversy that was sparked during the this year’s (2017) election campaign when the Conservatives proposed that your home should be included as part of the financial assessment.

If you qualify for social services support you will be awarded a personal budget. You have a choice over who provides your care. You can leave things to social services or you can request a direct payment .and sort out your own home care.

How Much Can I Expect to Pay? 

If you are fully funded through social services you may not have to pay anything. If you decide to have a direct payment and have home care through a private provider you may have to top up. If you pay for home care yourself, the amount you pay will vary depending on where you are in the country, and what your provider charges. The UKHCA estimate that the minimum cost of delivering one hour of home care is currently £17.19. If you want to get an idea of how fees vary across the country; try this calculator. Just a word of caution here. These figures offer you a guide only.

 Can I Choose the Times of My Calls? 

This is probably the single most important issue for people having home care. If you are paying for your care and you want a call at, say, 8.00 AM, surely you can have that, can’t you? Surely it is your choice to have a call at a time you want it? Surely, home care providers will be happy to give you what you want? Sadly, it’s not quite so simple.

It may appear to be a very simple thing; yet it is the most difficult thing to accomplish. The difficulty is easy to explain; perhaps a little hard to accept when it affects you. Let’s say that you want a call at 8.00 AM. You contact a home care provider who has 20 people available for 8.00 AM calls, but you will be customer number 21.

You can, of course, try an alternative provider. You may be lucky; you may not. The reality is that in the country as a whole there are only so many carers available for 8.00 AM calls, and you can be next door to certain that there are more people who require care at 8.00 AM.

What Questions Should I Ask a Home Care Provider? 

I won’t attempt to give you an exhaustive list of questions. I’m sure you will think of things I don’t mention.

You should certainly look at the provider’s CQC report. There may be a few questions that reading the report will suggest to you. Bear in mind that things do change. Criticisms in the report may well have been put right. Equally, what was once very good may no longer be so.

Ask about continuity of care. Does the provider aim to give you regular carers? There will always be challenges, but a good provider should aim to give you regular carers – if that is what you want.

How does the provider deal with missed calls? No matter how sophisticated the provider’s systems are; there will be times when the world conspires to make things difficult. If your carer does not turn up; how will the provider deal with it.

What capacity does the provider have to deal with carer illness, holidays and unforeseen demands placed on its services?

Why not ask if the provider is happy for you to be put in touch with one or two of its customers who would be happy to act as referees?

I Still Don’t Feel Part of the Priesthood 

It would take an article the closer to the length of War and Peace to provide you with the information needed. However, if you have any questions I’m happy to try and answer them.

Garry Costain is the Managing Director of Caremark Thanet, a domiciliary care provider with offices in Margate, Kent. Caremark Thanet provides home care services throughout the Isle of Thanet. Garry can be contacted on 01843 235910 or email You can also visit Caremark Thanet's website at

Thursday, 10 August 2017

Live in Care: Know Your Options

What Is Live-in Care?

Live-in care is where a carer lives with you to help you with your care needs. Though it may not suit everyone, live in care is undoubtedly an alternative to residential care that is worth considering. Quite typically, your carer will live with you seven days a week, although variations are possible. You might, for example have a live-in carer during the week and stay with your family at the weekend. Often, live-in care will be a permanent arrangement; it is possible, though, to have live-in care for a short period of time; for example, while you are recovering from an operation.

The Benefit of Live-in Care

I have written previously about the benefits of live-in care; therefore, I shall mention just one; one benefit that, I should suggest, far outweighs all the others. As with all home care, the aim of live-in care, is to help you maintain your independence and remain living in your home. For many of us, the thought of having to leave our homes is unbearable.

Our homes are part of us; and we are part of our homes. They often reflect our identities and the identities of other significant people in our lives. They are our tranquil sanctuaries from the disorder and confusion of a turbulent world. Our homes hold our dearest memories and are where we are most comfortable. Is it any wonder that we don't want to give them up?

How Do You Find a Live-in Carer?

The safest way to receive live-in care is through a domiciliary care provider. It must be said that there are alternatives to using a home care provider. I will say a little about the alternatives, below. These alternatives have their advantages; not the least of which is that they will be cheaper than using home care or residential providers.

To find a home care provider you can try a google search; an excellent website is one belonging to, where you can type in your postcode and search for local providers. Bear in mind that not all home care providers will offer a live-in care service. There is also a specialist live-in care website, the live-in care hub, that is well worth a visit.

What Does Live-in Care Involve

In a sentence, live-in care should be able to provide you with a full range of domiciliary care services, including: personal care, medication support, help with domestic tasks, companionship, shopping and meal preparation. Your carer will also be able to go out with you.

It is, perhaps, more important to appreciate what may not be included in a live-in care package. I'll just mention a disclaimer, here. What I explain refers to a care package provided through a home care provider. The alternatives available may well differ. Also, what I explain below is influenced by the services that I have experience in providing; other companies may offer variations on this.

Let us, then, concentrate on what may not be included in a live-in care package. You will sometimes see live-in care described as "24 hour live-in care": It is not (usually). You may well have a carer living with you, but it is improbable that he or she will be providing 24 hour care. It is unreasonable to expect a carer to work much in excess of nine hours a day (for seven days a week). Twenty-four hour care is available; however, you must expect to pay for each hour of care you receive. If you have round the clock care, you will have at least three carers, I should suggest.

The Alternatives to Live-in Care provided by a Home Care Company

There are two principal alternatives: first you employ a carer directly; second, you engage a carer who is self-employed. The major advantage with both of these options is that they are likely to be considerably cheaper than contracting with a domiciliary care company.

Employing your own carer

The first option, employing a carer yourself, may seem a little daunting. However, if you do your research and take a few basic precautionary steps, employing a carer yourself may not be quite as difficult as it first appears. I should suggest that you pay particular attention to the following points. This is by no means an exhaustive list.

First, make sure you take up references and insist on carrying out an enhanced DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. The DBS certificate will tell you if the certificate holder is barred from working with vulnerable adults and whether he or she has convictions for criminal offences. You certainly would not want to employ someone on the barred list. You will use your judgment about employing someone with a conviction.

Second, remember that you are an employer. If you want to avoid any awkward dealings with HMRC you must ensure that you pay your employees at least the minimum wage (£8.21 at the time of writing). You will also be responsible deducting and paying to HMRC your employees income tax and national insurance. You will also be responsible for paying employer's national insurance, which is currently 13.8%  anything earned above the national insurance threshold (at the time of writing this threshold stands at £719 per week).

As an employer you, you may also be responsible for ensuring that your carer is enrolled into a pension scheme. You will contribute to your carer's pension. There is a minimum contribution of 3% of your employee's income if they qualify to be enrolled in a pension scheme.

HMRC get a bad press quite often; however, they do have a wonderful tool that simplifies working out PAYE. I have written about this previously.

Third, you will need to think ahead about how you will cover the periods when your carer takes holidays. All employees are entitled to 28 days paid leave. A related point, is that you will need to make provision for periods when your carer is unable to work because of illness. It is highly probable that you will be responsible for paying statutory sick pay during these periods.

Fourth, if you are looking for long term care, it is inconceivable that you will be able to cover this with only one person. Live-in carers may well have a preference for a pattern of working - for example, three weeks working and one week off; or two weeks on and two weeks off. Realistically, therefore, you will be looking at employing two or three people.

Fifth, you will be responsible for ensuring that you are correctly insured. You have a duty to provide you employee with a safe place of work, which is your home. You also have a duty to ensure that any equipment provided for use by your employee is safe to use and that your employee is competent to use it.

Sixth, it goes without saying that you will want to be confident that your carer is competent to carry out whatever care services are required. As an employer, it may well be your responsibility to provide training for your employee.

Engaging a self-employed carer 

The second option is to engage a carer who is self-employed. The main advantage with this option is that you will not be responsible for deducting taxes, paying holiday and statutory sick pay, nor ensuring that your carer is enrolled in a pension scheme. Again, there are some simple checks to make.

First, you are strongly advised to carrying out the same checks with regard to references and DBS checks.There are companies who act as agents to find carers for you. They will, of course, charge something for doing this.

Second, As explained above, you will need to think about how you will cover periods of sickness and holidays. However, see my third point below on this. Once again, it is improbable that you will only have one person who provides your care. Both employed and self-employed carers will have their preferred working patterns.

However, if your carer is self-employed, they are in business. It is, thus, arguable that it is his or her responsibility to ensure that any periods of sickness and holidays (and periods of unavailability because of a preferred working pattern)  are covered. Your carer is effectively in the same position as a home care provider. The fact that he is just one person is neither here nor there. Your carer, to use the correct legal term, is a sole trader. You could, of course, if you so wish, negotiate on this and place the burden on yourself of covering these periods of absence. If you do this, I should strongly urge you to negotiate a lower price for your carer's services.

Third, as with employing a carer, ensuring that insurance cover is in place is critical. Your carer will be responsible for ensuring that she has liability insurance in place.

Fourth, you need to be absolutely certain that your carer is self-employed. If your carer is providing services for you and only you, it is highly probable that he or she is not self-employed but employed by you. If this is the case, you need to know as soon as possible. You do not want to discover, someway down the line, that you are an employer and responsible for backdated tax deductions, national insurance and pension contributions.

Fifth, as above, you will want to be confident that your carer is competent to carry out his or her tasks.

In Summary

Broadly, there are three options: contract with a domiciliary care company, employ a carer yourself or engage a self employed carer.

Garry Costain is the Managing Director of Caremark Thanet, a domiciliary care provider with offices in Margate, Kent. Caremark Thanet provides home care services throughout the Isle of Thanet. Garry can be contacted on 01843 235910 or email You can also visit Caremark Thanet's website at

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

You Have a Choice: The Care Act 2014 and Your Right to Direct Payments

You Have a Choice

This article offers advice about choosing your domiciliary care provider. It is particularly aimed at people who are, or who are seeking to be, wholly or partly funded by social services. If you fund your own domiciliary care you can choose your provider. The same is also true if you are funded through social services: you have a choice. You may be very happy for someone to sort everything out for you: and there is nothing wrong with that. However, the fact that you are reading this suggests that you might be interested in exploring your options. Let’s look, then, at what having a choice means.

Social Services Assessments

I have written about these in previous articles so I’ll keep this quite brief. To qualify for social services funding there are two assessments required. The first is a needs assessment the second is a means test, an assessment of finances. You can read my articles on needs assessments and financial assessments by clicking the links.

If you qualify for social services support you will be given a personal budget. If you wish to choose your own care provider you can have your budget paid to you as a direct payment. As I said above, you do not have to do this. It is your choice. Whoever does your assessment should advise you that this choice is open to you.

Direct Payments

If you choose not to have a direct payment, social services will sort everything out for you. If you do choose a direct payment, you can look after it yourself or someone can look after it for you. Someone who looks after your direct payment for you is referred to as your nominated person.

You have a right to have a direct payment. It is enshrined in law. Section 31 of the Care Act 2014 says that if you request a direct payment, the Local Authority to which the request is made “must” make the payment to you. In an Act of Parliament, the word “must” used in this context means that a duty is imposed on a body or bodies, in this case Local Authorities. Where there is a duty imposed on a body there is usually a right granted to another allowing enforcement of that duty. In this case you have the right to a direct payment that is enforceable against the Local Authority.

There are certain circumstances where social services can refuse a direct payment request. However, under usual circumstances, so long as you are able to consent to having direct payments you will be entitled to them.

The Benefits of Direct Payments

As this is public money, quite rightly, you cannot spend a direct payment on just anything; and you will be audited by your Local Authority. Direct payments do, though, give you a large element of control over your care package. Direct payments allow you to choose your home care provider rather than having one chosen for you. But it is more than that. There are wider benefits that flow from exercising choice. 

Choice promotes dignity, and brings independence, and self-reliance, and enhances well-being, and satisfaction and peace of mind, and gives a sense of achievement: And these are benefits that should never be underestimated.

Nothing, though, is set in stone. You can change your mind. If you decide to allow Social Services to look after things for you, you can, at a later date, choose to have a direct payment. There is flexibility in the system to work for you. For more information about obtaining a direct payment and changing home care providers click on this link.

You have a choice.

Garry Costain is the Managing Director of Caremark Thanet, a domiciliary care provider with offices in Margate, Kent. Caremark Thanet provides home care services throughout the Isle of Thanet. Garry can be contacted on 01843 235910 or email You can also visit Caremark Thanet's website at

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Caremark Thanet Presents a Cheque to East Kent Hospital's Charity Dementia Appeal

Dementia affects an estimated 850,000 people in the UK. This is expected to rise to over one million people by 2025. In Kent, there are currently some 22,000 people living with dementia. This figure is expected to rise to 30,000 by 2026. There could be thousands more people living with dementia that is as yet not diagnosed. It is estimated that in the UK there is one person every 3 minutes diagnosed with dementia.

Dementia is not a disease itself but is caused by other diseases; Alzheimer's disease, perhaps, being the most widely known of these causes. There is no cure for dementia. Historically, dementia research has been underfunded. This under-funding has meant that the progress in dementia research has been slow, when compared with other areas of medical research.

Although there is no cure for dementia; there is help. Often this help comes through the work of charities. One such charity is the East Kent Hospital's Charity Dementia Appeal. On June 30 2017, Caremark Thanet was pleased to team up with Bernie's Chocolate Bar to sponsor a stand up comedy night for the East Kent Hospitals appeal.

The evening was a runaway success. The twelve talented comedians kept the audience laughing. One of a number of comedians making his debut at stand up comedy was Caremark Thanet's financial controller, Jay Harrison. Jay was the youngest performer on the night and proved a real crowd pleaser.

A fantastic £1,200 was raised on the night, and the cheque was presented by Caremark Thanet and Bernie's Chocolate Bar to representatives of the dementia appeal. From left to right in the photograph above are: Berine Morgan (owner of Bernie's Chocolate Bar), Lorna Shadbolt, Joy Marshall, Karan Scrivener (dementia nurses), Jemma Clayton (Business Development Manager, Caremark Thanet), Garry Costain (Managing Director, Caremark Thanet) and Vicky Adley (Fundraising and Development Officer, East Kent Hospital's Charity).

The money raised will be spent on facilities at the Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother Hospital in Margate.

Garry Costain is the Managing Director of Caremark Thanet, a domiciliary care provider with offices in Margate, Kent. Caremark Thanet provides home care services throughout the Isle of Thanet. Garry can be contacted on 01843 235910 or email You can also visit Caremark Thanet's website at