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Why You Should Never Forget About Self Care

By | Blog

When you think about care, both physical and mental symptoms come to mind. Self care is hugely important, no matter how old we are. Learning to take care of ourselves can reduce stress, improve our moods and have a huge impact on quality of life.

Our blog this month at Horizon Care looks into the impact that self care can have.

What is Self Care?

It may seem like an obvious question, but understanding self care isn’t always straight forward. In the easiest terms it’s about taking care of yourself both mentally and physically. We all experience difficulties in life and it’s important that we recognise when to put ourselves first. If done right, self care can improve your mood, reduce things like anxiety and stress, and give you a better sense of yourself.

However, it isn’t about doing things because you feel like you have to or not seeking help when you need it. While caring for yourself promotes healthy living and lifestyle, it is still important to seek medical help if necessary. Self care is about balance and not risking your own safety.

Learning to Help Yourself

There are a few ways that you can improve your quality of life, regardless of what age you are. Mind, a charity for mental health, has some great tips online for learning about caring for yourself. Learning to care for yourself can be anything. Whether it’s making yourself a cup of tea or going to regular exercise classes, the variety is endless.

For those with long term conditions, it can be helpful to discuss self caring with your GP, nurse, consultant, or other professional. They will be able to talk about what is possible as well as your own medical requirements.

Healthy Eating and Lifestyles

For most people a healthy lifestyle can help to improve their quality of life. Eating fruits and vegetables and socialising regularly can have a huge impact on your life. Feeling empowered to do something each day can lift moods and also give you many different skills.

For those who are able to, going to a group class or meeting is a great idea. This could be exercise based, a book club or a variety of other things. Most local areas have different activities to take part in, so it’s worth looking out for meetings or open days.

Sleep is Important

Sometimes it is easier said than done, but getting enough sleep each night is key. It’s recommended that adults need somewhere between 7 and 9 hours per night. This gives the brain and body enough time to recuperate, preparing you for the next day.

Falling asleep and staying asleep can be difficult for some. If this applies to you, then think about some ways that you can improve your rest. Reading a book before bed can help to put you into the right mood for sleep, as can simple stretches, listening to music, and baths. For those that have thoughts running through their minds, writing a journal or keeping an organiser can help to put your mind at ease.

There are also plenty of natural and holistic sleeping aids available to try. Whilst this might not be for everyone, it could work for you. This includes options like creams, sprays, teas and more.

What Can I Do?

On top of the options mentioned above, there are plenty of things to be done! Think about activities that make you smile or something you love but haven’t done for a while. Some great examples of self care can be:

  • Exercising
  • Cleaning
  • Reading
  • Writing
  • Yoga
  • Listening to Music
  • Relaxing
  • Being Outdoors
  • Socialising

There are many more options and plenty of advice online. Some great places to go include the NHS website, Mind and Age UK.

Keeping Cool in Hot Weather

By | Blog

In summer, we all experience warmer temperatures and long, sunny days. However, it is always important to take care of yourself in hotter climates. Warm weather isn’t for everybody and it can often have an impact on the elderly and those who are vulnerable.

Our blog this week at Horizon Care looks into the elderly, hot weather and what you can do to make the heat more bearable.

Who is Vulnerable During Hot Weather?

Last week the hottest temperature on UK records was registered in Cambridge. The Met Office confirmed that temperatures reached a staggering 38.7C (or 101.7F), beating the previous record from 2003. Summers are always hot and this year looks to be no different.

Some people may enjoy the hot weather however others struggle. The elderly, children, infants and those with specific chronic health conditions can often become ill as a result of heat. Others at risk include:

  • Serious Mental Health Problems
  • Mobility Problems
  • Physically Active (sports, labourers etc)
  • Those on Certain Medicines
  • Alcohol or Drug Issues

Symptoms to Look Out For

When a heatwave does come, there are a few things that you can do to prepare if you feel that you are at risk. Keeping up to date with the latest weather reports will give you enough warning and make sure you know about any changes. Although, if the heat comes and makes it difficult for you to stay comfortable, it is important that you keep an eye out for symptoms.

Heat exhaustion and heat stroke are two conditions that you should be aware of. In most cases, heat exhaustion will not become serious if you cool down in 30 minutes. However, if this does not happen, then there is a risk that heat stroke will occur.

Some of the main symptoms shown in heat exhaustion cases are:

  • Headache
  • Loss of Appetite
  • Excessive Sweating
  • Confusion and Dizziness
  • Pale and Clammy Skin
  • Feeling Sick
  • Fast Breathing or Pulse
  • Very Thirsty
  • Arm, Leg or Stomach Cramps
  • Temperature of 38° +

What Do I Need To Do?

keeping cool in summer

The best thing to do if you notice these symptoms is to move a person to a cool place. Get them to lie down with their feet raised slightly and keep them hydrated and cool. If they do not improve after 30 minutes, call 999. Signs of heat stroke include:

  • Hot and Dry
  • Temperature above 40°
  • Unresponsive
  • Not Sweating but Still Hot
  • Lose Consciousness
  • Rapid or Shortness of Breath
  • Has a Fit or Seizure
  • Confusion

Keeping Cool and Hydrated

If you know hot weather is coming, then there are some things that you can do. Ensure that you are drinking enough cold drinks and are wearing loose clothing to ventilate yourself. Also, avoiding the sun at its hottest point between 11 am and 3 am is another thing to do.

On top of this, take cool showers or baths, avoid alcohol and extreme exercise, and keep air flowing through your house. It is best to open windows during the night when it is cooler rather than during the height of the heat.

When it comes to sleeping at night, try and sleep in a cool room. Another thing that you can do is to swap out your duvet for lighter bed sheets.

More advise can be found on the NHS website about coping in a heatwave.

Technology Advances and Caring

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Taking care of yourself or those that you care about isn’t always easy. Luckily, there have been so many advancements in technology recently that the process is easier than ever. As people live for longer, it is important that we all make the most of the opportunities for care around us.

Our blog this month at Horizon Care looks into technology advances and caring to see what we can do to change our lives.

Who Is Using Technology?

Even though it may not seem like it, the elderly are using technology more than ever. According to the Office for National Statistics, 41% of adults who are 75 years + use the internet regularly. Women in particular have been using the internet more and this figure has trebled since 2011.

For those aged between 65 and 74, the use of the internet has gone from 52% in 2011 to 78% in 2017. More people own mobile phones and tablets now than before. This includes 27% of those over the age of 75.

A recent report by Ofcom found that 92% of 65 to 74-year-olds use a mobile phone. To add to this, 81% of over 75s said they use a mobile phone. It is clear that technology has made a huge impact on how people communicate as well as care.

Mobiles and Tablets

Using mobile devices to stay in contact with family members is a huge benefit of technology. Although, they can also be a handy way of managing your daily routines. There are endless apps and websites out there to help with caring, providing an alternative.

Some great ways of using a phone or tablet for care can be:

  • Skype – staying in contact with relatives and friends
  • Gaming – keeping occupied and improving brain activity
  • Pill Reminder Apps – if you experience forgetfulness, this is a fantastic aid
  • Fitness Apps – staying fit and healthy is easy to do
  • Weather, News and Social Media – simply to keep on top of what’s going on
  • Watching and Streaming – there are plenty of on-demand and music streaming services

Assistance Around the Home

Technology doesn’t stop at the internet. Stairlifts, scooters and other mobility products have been around for a long time and offer more than they used to. Having these in your home makes movement easier and helps to prevent falls, keeping you safe.

There are also plenty of other items on the market including clocks, stove alarms, pill dispensers, memo reminders and more.

Smart technology is also another thing to consider. Having this installed is usually easy to do and gives you control over a range of areas. Depending on what you’ve bought, you can control heating, security cameras, alarms and more.

Televisions and Gaming

One of the hardest things to do can be to remain social. There can be many reasons why a person may find it difficult to leave the home, from medical conditions to time constraints. However, technology can provide much-needed reassurance. Whether you’re watching a TV show or are searching for videos on YouTube, TVs and other devices can offer support as well as something to do.

Gaming is also another surprising but popular way for people to spend their time. The Technology in Later Life (TILL) project has been carrying out research into the older generation and their use of gaming. Linking games with health hasn’t always come up with a popular response, but there are so many advantages to the technology of a games console.

Being less mobile does not impact your ability to play. There are various consoles including PlayStations, Xbox as well as the Nintendo Wii and Switch, all of which provide a huge range of games. There is also development into exercise programmes and in the future the potential for even more.

The Future of Care

Over the next few years, further development in technology is bound to happen. With more use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) as well as Voice Optimised Systems like Alexa, the care industry may change.

You can find out more about technology available on Which? and other sites.

Animal Therapy and the Elderly

By | Animal Therapy, Blog | No Comments

Last week care home patients at Magdalen Park Nursing Home in Hull received some unexpected visitors. Two miniature ponies, known as Buttercup and Daisy, arrived bringing joy to everyone there.

At Horizon Care our blog this month looks into using pets to heal, questioning whether animal therapy and elderly care is a good match.

History of Using Pets for Care

Whether you realise it or not, using animals for therapy can be traced back to Ancient Greece. Most often it was horses which were used to help lift spirits, improving mental and physical health. Using pets then developed further in Medieval Belgium and was again used by British nurse Florence Nightingale in the 1800s.

By the 1940s, pets and farm animals were helping war veterans with their recovery process. After this, formal research was carried out into using pets on children, trauma patients and the elderly. Today it is common to see puppies, cats and other animals used to visit care home patients, students stressed with their workload and trauma survivors.

What is Pet Therapy?

Anybody who has ever owned an animal knows how much joy they can bring. In the simplest terms, pet therapy is the use of pets to provide therapy. Using pets can help to bring happiness and joy to people, improving moods and fighting feelings of loneliness. Not all people have the time or ability to care for an animal full time, which is why visiting with an animal can be a good compromise.

Some of the main benefits include:

  • Provides a Sense of Purpose
  • Combating Loneliness
  • Promotes Positive Interactions
  • Increase in Activity
  • Lower Blood Pressure and Cholesterol Levels
  • Reduce Feelings of Hopelessness
  • Encourage Independence
  • Help with Depression and Stress

Although, it is important to remember that animals aren’t for everybody. Some people have allergies, phobias or a dislike for a particular species.

Visiting Patients

Resident Mary Cole meets pony Buttercup from Furry Friends [Picture: Alex Cousins, SWNS].

In May this year, two ponies from Furry Friends visited a care home in Hull. Helen Bellis, who owns the miniature ponies Buttercup and Daisy, said that bringing them into the home was a ‘breath of fresh air’ as well as a ‘genuine sense of joy’. Equine therapy is becoming more popular, especially for those who are experiencing mental health problems. Horses are being used to help those with a range of conditions including anxiety, poor behaviour, low self-confidence, trauma, stress and autism.

Future of Animal Therapy

Although, there may be a new future to animal therapy and the elderly. The University of Exeter has been researching Robopets and seeing if they have any impact on those in care homes. Led by Dr Rebecca Abbott, the study found that Robopets helped to reduce agitation as well as feelings of loneliness.

Currently, there are five different designs which resemble a dog, cats, bear and a young seal. Dr Abbott added that ‘a lot of people reported confiding in the pet’. To add to this, one man ‘wouldn’t go to sleep until the cat was placed on his chest.’

A major benefit to this approach to pet therapy is the ease of caring for the pet. There is no need for walks, cleaning or feeding. On average, the PDSA estimates that owning a cat costs around £17,000 and a dog between £16,000 and £31,000.

However, spending time with a pet doesn’t need to be expensive or stressful. Animal therapy gives people a chance to enjoy their lives and experience time with a pet, no matter what position they are in.

Fighting Back Against Loneliness

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At some point in our life we’ve all felt lonely. As we grow older, loneliness and mental health still continue to have an impact on how we live. It is important to take care of those around us and know when to spot the signs of loneliness.

Our blog this month takes a look at how we can fight back against loneliness in the elderly, taking care of those we love.

The Facts

The experience of loneliness is an extremely personal feeling. For most people, it will get better over time. However, that is not always the case. According to Age UK, there are around 3.6 million elderly people in the UK who live alone. Of these, more than 2 million are aged over 75 years. Additionally, 1.9 million believe that they feel invisible or ignored on a regular basis.

The same can be said for the elder generation in the US. In March 2019, the latest National Poll on Healthy Aging stated that a third of the elderly population are lonely.

Ongoing Research

During 2018 Age UK worked with Care Connect at the University of Sheffield to research loneliness in specific groups. These included older men, the LGBT+ community and ethnic minorities.

Research has found that more men than ever are experiencing loneliness. On top of this, the findings suggest that 8 million men feel lonely at least one time a week.

Those in the LGBT+ community are more likely to live alone, be single and contact relatives less. Each of these factors leads to an increase in loneliness. Shockingly, over 4 out of 5 do not trust professionals to understand their needs, culture or lifestyle.

Again, it is the same for those in the BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) community. Despite being more likely to spend time with family members, they have less involvement with local activities and their peers.

You can view the Interim Report from the University of Sheffield.

Ongoing Projects

There are several ongoing projects for the elderly to get involved with if they are feeling lonely. In Devon, the local council have carried out research into the local area and loneliness. According to the results, only 42.8% of social care users believed they have the amount of contact they wanted. This compares to 46.4% in Dorset and 50.5% in Worcestershire.

Also, they compiled a list of the areas in Devon where loneliness was most likely to occur:

At the end of 2018, the government released the first ever loneliness strategy in the UK. They aim to tackle this issue by using social prescribing. This gives GPs the ability to refer a patient who they think is experiencing loneliness.

What Can We Do?

The best thing any of us can do for those that we love is to recognise the signs of loneliness. However, it isn’t always easy to do this. Age UK suggest that you should look out for:

  • Not eating correctly
  • Neglecting hygiene and appearance
  • A significant change in routine
  • Saying they feel worthless

Another thing to do is involve those around you. Suggest joining a local society or club and find out what’s happening in the local area. If travel is an issue, then look into what there is available. Local authorities will be able to advise you on railcards and more. As the elderly receive free bus travel, this is another great way to get out.

The Samaritans can be contacted in the UK on 116 123. There is also The Silver Line which can be reached on 0800 4 70 80 90.

Caring For Those Living Longer

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A recent survey released by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) this month revealed the impact of caring for those who are living longer. People are staying in work for more years, which is having an impact on care.

Our blog this month looks into the need for care and how long life expectancy is making an impact.

Working and Caring

With an ageing workforce, it is inevitable that more people will need to look after individuals whilst working. As of 2016, informal care was estimated at a value of £59.5 billion per year. There has also been a significant rise in the age of those caring. The ONS revealed that 3 out of 5 carers in England and Wales were over 50 years of age.

An issue that we face is the need to work for longer. As people push back retirement and continue their employment, there will be a clash between the need for and giving of care.

About Unpaid Care

A large proportion of care provided in the UK is unpaid. This comes from family members and friends, placing responsibilities on a number of different people in society. Additionally, the report shows that women are more likely to work part time than men. Below is an infographic demonstrating this divide:

Of those women that work, 24% (1 in 4) provide support alongside their own employment. This differs in men as only 13% (1 in 8) work while providing care. However, men are more likely to look after their spouse, whereas women are caring for a broader range of people.

Of men supporting their other half, more than two-thirds of them are still in work. This means that they are responsible for caring as well as completing external responsibilities.

Patient Caring

Another interesting outcome from the report is that the most common type of caring is for a parent. It is estimated that 29% of that provided informally is for this group. Of those taking on this responsibility, 64% are still in work.

ONS also outlined that less than 16 hours a week are spent on informal care for parents. The most time spent caring is given to children (75.6% 16 hours +) followed by spouses (70.5% 16 hours +).

Impact on Carers

As more and more people take up the responsibility of caring, it is important to consider what impact this is having on health and wellbeing. Research has shown that men feel less lonely if they continue to work whilst caring. In total, 17.5% of non-working male carers aged between 52 and 69 years in England reported feeling alone. This is compared to 6.6% in the same age range who were working.

However, the figures are different for female carers. Instead, 13% of those working and 12.3% of those not working said they were experiencing loneliness. These figures show little difference, highlighting how working does not impact on a female carers likelihood of loneliness.

What Does This Mean?

It is crucial that we all consider the personal cost of providing care for our loved ones. As people spend more time working, it can easily become a strain to care for those around us.

Here at Horizon Care we provide a professional and person-centred care service for those around the South West.  

living-with-dementia

Living With Dementia: How We Can Help People Survive

By | Blog, Dementia Research, Living With Dementia

In the UK there are around 850,000 people living with dementia. By 2025, it is expected that this number will reach over 1 million. Caring for those with the condition is crucial. As carers, we can help people to retain independence and enjoy their lives.

What is Dementia?

This condition is not a disease and is instead a combination of different symptoms. At the beginning these can start off slowly, however they often develop to cause significant issues. Symptoms happen because the brain can no longer effectively transform messages into actions.

Some of the most common signs experienced include:

  • Being unable to work things out
  • Struggling to learn new skills
  • Difficulty in remembering things
  • Poor orientation
  • Inability to adapt to sensory and physical changes

Alongside these, a person may have mood swings and also change their behaviour over time.

A key cause of the condition is thought to be related to some form of damage to the brain. This could be following Alzheimer’s or a series of strokes. Although, there are a number of other causes which may result in dementia.

Not an Elderly Condition

Around 1 in 14 people over the age of 65 have dementia. This is why most people assume that it is a condition exclusively for the elderly. In reality, there are more than 42,000 people under 65 currently living the UK with dementia. This accounts for more than 5% of total sufferers in the country.

The chances of developing symptoms do increase with age. However, early-onset dementia affects a substantial number of individuals. The largest difference in the development is that around 10% of people are thought to have inherited the condition rather than developed it.

Helping to Care

Having dementia does not mean a person cannot do the things they enjoy. The most important thing we can do is to care for them. Whether you help with getting the shopping or take the dog out for a walk, every little thing helps.

It is important to remember that over time a person will deteriorate. As it becomes more difficult to care for somebody you love, it is important to care for yourself. There are a number of other groups online and in the community where you can seek support. Using a regular carer or looking for respite care can often be the best option.

Ongoing Research

A substantial health investment at the moment is research into dementia. Around £15 million has been invested by the Government into the Dementia Discovery Fund. Additionally, another £190 million has been put into the UK Dementia Research Institute.

In the past month, there have been calls for those living with dementia to help fight back against the condition. Care minister Caroline Dinenage said in the Express newspaper:

“Less than four per cent of people in England with a diagnosis are currently involved in studies but we need many, many more to help make the breakthroughs to beat this disease.”

Using Dementia Research, there is a commitment from ministers to boost involvement to 25 per cent. As the diagnosis rate for the condition stands at 67.9 per cent, it is crucial that we do something to work against it.

Fighting Back

In the past few years, there has been a dramatic growth in research into dementia. One of the leading figures is Lancaster University who are running their Defying Dementia campaign. As a community supported campaign, the university are paving the way to develop a drug to treat dementia.

With investment and dedicated research, we are starting to see long needed advancements. Professor David Allsop has been working since 2014 to run clinical research into a drug. Although there is still a lot of progress to be made, the development of a drug is outstanding.

Support Your Loved Ones

Whether you’re sitting and talking with a person with dementia or are raising money for research funding, we can all do our part.

At Horizon Care Ltd we are committed to providing care and support for those with dementia.

What Home Care Means to Horizon Care Agency

By | Blog, What Home Care Means | No Comments

Discover what home care really is with Exeter’s leading home care agency, Horizon Care Agency Ltd.

The thought of ‘home care’ can be interpreted as a variety of different meanings for anyone in the care industry or not. Here at Horizon Care Agency Ltd, we aim to make sure everyone is on the same page, delivering outstanding home care and keeping all of our clients comfortable in their own homes for as long as possible. Read more to find out what home care really means to us and our professional team.

So, What Is Home Care?

Home care as a definition is the act of a carer visiting a client in their home to assist with daily and regular activities. These activities can include various elements such as:

  • Personal hygiene (washing, dressing, showering)
  • Complex support with medication
  • General support with cleaning, meal preparation according to their dietary needs, linen changing, house cleanliness and laundry
  • Assisting clients out of the house and enabling them to carry on their normal duties with additional support

All care services from us in Exeter depend on what the client needs and are all tailored to suit our clients’ needs specifically. The NHS has lots of key information here regarding home help and agency support that are somewhat a ‘how to’ guide when choosing home care for yourself or a loved one.

Flexibility Is Key

We currently run on a flexible basis as to what best suits our clients’ needs and requirements. No set plan is in place on a wider basis and all care routines are carried out on a unique client basis every time. As home care has the ability to be as flexible as possible, we don’t have to follow the set guidelines or layout that a residential home may have to.

There is no set meal time, set meal menu, no set bedtimes and routines are based around what our clients enjoy doing the most.

Home Care To Suit Your Needs

Whatever our client’s needs are, whether they just need additional home care support or are looking for an enabler to assist with general companionship on a regular basis, we cater to their needs. You may also be looking to Horizon Care Agency Ltd for help with a loved one or a family member and as time goes on, their needs can change as well as yours which we will endeavour to accompany.

One example of how needs can change with home care is as follows. Your loved one may need our assistance with medication only as you take care of washing, laundry and general routines yourself. As time progresses and you find taking care of all the other tasks harder on yourself, you can turn to our team for more help with their washing and hygiene routines so that you don’t put yourself in more strain or danger. This is common within our care agency as clients’ needs develop and we always go above and beyond to ensure complete independence for as long as possible in the home.

We also work with specialists in the industry to ensure that all areas are covered when dealing with anyone that is disabled, those suffering from dementia or Alzheimer’s and those with sensory loss problems.

The Importance of Independence

Home care highlights the importance of independence at any age. With everyone having their own lifestyle routines, characteristics and personal preferences, independence is the one key element that runs consistently amongst everyone.

Having home help can give anyone the chance to carry out tasks they feel less comfortable doing on their own so that you can be comfortable in your home surroundings at all times. A lot of our clients love their own personal space but just need assistance in bathing and medication and because of this, we offer a wide range of services to ensure they get help where they need it most.

We also run all of our services under the Care Quality Commission which is the Independent Regulator of Health and Social Care in England. They make sure that all home care services are safe, effective and at the high-quality level all clients deserve, making Horizon Care Agency Ltd in Exeter someone you can trust.

Get in Touch

For any more information regarding home care with Horizon Care Agency in Exeter, call us today on 01392 426 340.

How to Prepare for Your Home Care Job

By | Blog, Your Home Care Job | No Comments

Below are some top tips on how to avoid carer burnout, how to take care of your mental health while at work and also how to make sure you deliver your best care levels at all times.

No home carer ever wants to reach their limit when caring for their patients and it is important here at Horizon Care Agency that everyone works at their own pace. With support for our carers being one of our leading priorities, we make sure all of our home carers are comfortable and far from burning out.

Home Care Check List

It is vital that all home carers have a checklist they follow when carrying out their duties. When we say checklist, we don’t necessarily mean the tasks you should be carrying out, but we mean the signs you should look out for in yourself to avoid carer burnout.

In order to keep your own wellbeing positive and your mental health in check while working long, challenging hours you will need to take care of yourself first. Below are a few pointers to check on while you carry out your caring role.

Feeling Appreciated

There may come times in your carer career where you will feel underappreciated and like your work is taken for granted. If you get to this point, we urge all carers to take a step back and look at the amazing work they are doing and the difference they are making to a patients’ life.

A carer often works with patients who are unable to communicate fully or say thank you for their services but believe us when we say all of your patients will be very thankful of the support you are providing them with. As soon as you accept this, your daily tasks will be highly rewarding within themselves and you will feel refreshed on every shift. Being a carer is a challenging but highly rewarding role and you should be proud to carry out your tasks every day.

Good Physical Health

It is so important that as a home carer, you keep your own physical health in good shape in order to provide your patients with the best level of care possible every time. If you are not at your peak physical performance when dealing with your patients, you could do more damage than good especially in lifting situations and personal care.

We don’t ask that all of our carers are Olympic medallists doing marathons every weekend, but we request that you are able to carry out the basic tasks needed to provide a patient with in-home care. Whether you choose the role of an enabler, support worker or senior support worker, physical health will be important in order to live up to expectations from your patients and their families.

Prioritise Carefully

When working with your patients it is important that you prioritise your tasks around their needs and not your own. If a certain routine works well for you, you need to make sure that it works well for your patients too and if it doesn’t, then you need to find a better solution.

Spread your responsibility when caring for your patients across the carers involved and make sure that your patient is at the forefront of all of your tasks. Working with each individual patients’ needs is your main priority and with Horizon Care Agency, all of our patients come first.

Get in Touch

To find out more information about getting a home care job with Horizon Care Agency in the Exeter area call our team today on 01392 426 340 or check out our job application process online.