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Elderly companion service?

(45 Posts)
littlevic Mon 08-Jan-18 16:48:32

Hello! I've been thinking of setting up companionship service for the elderly in my area (Surrey) and have no idea where to start or even if it's a viable business idea?!!
Friends tell me it's a great idea, but wanted to ask the wise Mumsnetters too...
It would offer anything from taking a lonely older person out for tea and a chat, to helping them with their shopping, internet issues, doctors/hospital appointments etc, meal prep... No personal/medical care though as I'm not trained. Any ideas/opinions would be gratefully received smile

mustbemad17 Mon 08-Jan-18 16:51:24

This would be super, especially as some of the things you have mentioned don't actually warrant social care.
I guess you'd be sort of PA's? The biggest thing for me would be cost...i'm an ex carer & I know a lot of the elderly folk i met couldn't afford additional help outside their social allowance because it's so expensive

scurryfunge Mon 08-Jan-18 16:52:25

Just googled companionship services for your area and there seems to be quite a few so I'd make sure you'd still have a market. Also many charities offer this sort of thing too so you may have competition on a cheaper scale.

Backingvocals Mon 08-Jan-18 16:52:39

Funnily enough I’m just looking for this for my mum ! Not your area though. She needs someone daily for an hour or so - do a few chores, buy a pint of milk, quick chat. So it’s a small amount of time but every day which I think makes it difficult to organise and make profitable. But yes there’s definitely a need there.

MrsY Mon 08-Jan-18 16:54:50

My mum's friend set something like this in the Tunbridge Wells area. She did it like an agency, and families who couldn't visit relatives paid her, and she then arranged a suitable person to visit and paid them an hourly rate. My mum did it as a bit of a favour for a while, but found it too stressful (and the woman she was visiting was a real cowbag).

Mostly the relatives were in care homes or already had carers if necessary, but the families wanted them to have company but either weren't local or didn't have the time or inclination to visit themselves.

mustbemad17 Mon 08-Jan-18 16:55:42

Baking she's not in essex is she?

I recently tried to volunteer for a chat service; basically calling up older folk once a week for a catch up. There's very little in our area & they weren't taking volunteers on! I was astounded

littlevic Mon 08-Jan-18 16:58:32

Thanks guys...
There are a few in Surrey, Scurryfunge but I can't find any in my local area - Haslemere? I was talking to a friend of mine in the NHS and she said that a few of the bigger charities like AGEUK are sadly having to cut down on their companionship services due to lack of funding...
I'd love to offer the service for free but alas have to earn a living :/
Backingvocals - that's exactly the service I'd like to offer!

PoisonousSmurf Mon 08-Jan-18 16:58:37

Many people out in the countryside provide this kind of service. But it's usually for 'wealthier' elderly people who can afford to employ a helper.
I really don't think you can set up on your own without having a DBS being paid for by the client or if you work for a home care employer.
You need to have public liability insurance as well and if taking clients in your car, it needs to be business use as well.
When dealing with the elderly, you need to make sure you have covered yourself against any allegations from relatives or friends.
Maybe work as a home carer and get the training and then see about setting up on your own?
At least then you'll have the skills.

littlevic Mon 08-Jan-18 17:00:01

Mustbemad that's awful that they're not taking volunteers on!?! I know the face to face services are being cut but over the phone is better than nothing surely and could make all the difference to someone! X

Megabeth Mon 08-Jan-18 17:00:40

DO said the wife if one his his colleagues has started a similar thing she charges £10 p/h , she's now having to turn down work as she wants to keep below tax paying threshold.

I really want to do something like this too, but not sure where to start. Do I just put a card in the post office window?

Dodie66 Mon 08-Jan-18 17:02:05

My daughter works for a company doing this. She does a bit of cleaning, takes them shopping, had a cup of tea with them etc. She had to have a DBS check.

mustbemad17 Mon 08-Jan-18 17:02:41

little i know, it's shocking. They don't even cover the phone charges for the volunteers (which is fine!) so i don't get it at all

littlevic Mon 08-Jan-18 17:02:53

Poisonous smurf that's a good idea, I appreciate that I'd have to be DBS checked and have insurance - I run a business at the mo but not related to this... I'm winding it down over the next few months so I can concentrate on setting this up and getting the relevant registration with certain bodies etc smile

Megabeth Mon 08-Jan-18 17:04:59

I know the Methodist Church has Live at Home schemes, I volunteered for them but the lady just ended up giving me a shopping list instead of wanting company and a shopping trip.

hatgirl Mon 08-Jan-18 17:05:42

In theory it's a good idea and there is a small market for 'home helps' for people who fall in the gap between independent and eligible for support from social services.

Things to consider:

You will presumably be using your own car? If you are charging people for the service of being transported in it , or even just using to go in between clients you will need business insurance.

Public liability insurance, in case something happens whilst they are with you.

DBS check

If people need help getting to medical appointments they can get transport from the NHS.

Also a lot of areas have volunteer services which provide a lot of what you are suggesting for free.

There is a gap for people to be the named contact for telecare systems where people don't have friends and family nearby if you were willing to be a 'point of contact' but that would bring with it its own issues.

Given all of the above it's likely that to make any kind of profit from it your hourly rate will have to be at a level that means you are probably going to be targeting the wealthier end of the pensioner group. Is there a sufficient supply of that type of 'demographic' in your area?

littlevic Mon 08-Jan-18 17:05:49

Megabeth I think it's gonna be a bit more involved than that :/
I wondered that to start with but as the service comes under the umbrella of social care I think you need to be registered with certain Care bodies, and undergo inspections etc!?! EEk... And we also need insurance, in case someone takes a fall in our care etc...

repeatthelyrics Mon 08-Jan-18 17:06:56

I'd love this for my parents.
Someone to pop in for an hour and check there's enough food, that DM has remembered her tablets, that there's enough dishwasher tablets and the bills are paid.
A companion rather than a carer. It's a great idea.

mustbemad17 Mon 08-Jan-18 17:08:16

Not everybody qualifies for NHS transport. We had several clients who had early onset dementia or eyesight problems that were not allowed on NHS transport because they required a chaperone for insurance...except that the transport then didn't have insurance for chaperones so they couldn't come anyway 🙄🙄 was a very baffling system

flimp Mon 08-Jan-18 17:08:44

Some of what you describe is actually support work for which you would need to have training in, for example, person centred working, risk assessment and food hygiene. You'd need policies in place for providing support with money (eg banking or helping people sort out their internet etc).

If you were literally just popping in for a chat and a catch up, then that's all less of an issue, but taking people out for a brew is more of a PA/support work role.

littlevic Mon 08-Jan-18 17:08:51

Hatgirl - thanks so much for your advice. Yes, our area definitely has more than it's fair share of wealthy seniors. Not that I want to discriminate, but sadly I have to earn a living. I'm only after a part time wage, not a million though ;)

Ijustlovefood Mon 08-Jan-18 17:18:40

This is something I'm interested in and looking into volunteering with a local scheme.

hatgirl Mon 08-Jan-18 17:20:52

I think you would also need to be very clear about the levels of mobility you could cater for, ultimately the people you are supporting are likely to need paid help because they have reduced mobility, this might mean they would need help getting in and out of cars, and up out of seats etc.

At that point it seems reasonable to suggest that as a minimum you would complete a safe moving and handling course, but then you start slipping into the territory of social care again.

Most of the people I know who do this have previously worked for care agencies and so have all of the relevant training behind them.

flimp Mon 08-Jan-18 17:24:45

would you be working alone, or are you looking to build a team?

littlevic Mon 08-Jan-18 17:37:20

Flimp - will start alone initially, but hope to bring on board at least one other lady, then I know I have holidays and sickness covered too? smile

Megabeth Mon 08-Jan-18 17:37:49

Megabeth I think it's gonna be a bit more involved than that :/

My DP said his colleague told him his wife put it on Facebook, had a t shirt printed and is now inundated with work! I keep insisting it can't be as simple as that, I have asked if she got a DBS clearance. I've applied for support work and it must be difficult to not cross the boundary into social care.

I think he's trying to sell it to me but like poisonous Smurf said I am wary of relatives. My friend offered to accompany a lonely elderly lady from her church on a short holiday and the lady's children reported her to the police. I know for a fact her children are rinsing her dry so they don't want their Mum spending money on herself.

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