By Julie Wainwright, manager of Midland care and support advice service
We speak to hundreds of people every month who are looking for help and advice on care options. One of the major themes we have seen recently is this: people contact us because they are worried an elderly relative isn’t managing in their own home. They ask us about care homes because they recognise their relative isn’t coping and things may need to change. There is also, commonly, strong emotions about the idea of a move into a care home: guilt, worries about how the relative might adjust, concerns about how it would be funded. We often say: have you thought about a package of care in your relative’s own home? It is notable that often the answer to this question is – no.
Why is this? Most people know someone who has moved into a care home, or are aware of a care home which is near to their home. The agencies who provide packages of care for people living in their own home are lower profile and lesser known. It follows that there is also less awareness of what packages of care in your own home can be. For example, in many cases, it now costs slightly less to have live-in care in your own home than equivalent weekly fees in a nursing home. Live-in care involves having a carer living in your own home to provide 24-hour care and support, seven days a week. Often, two carers share responsibilities and between them, offer 24/7 support. Live-in care can be a very good option if a couple wants to continue living together but one person needs high levels of nursing care. Having the support of professional carers allows family members to focus on their relationships, while nursing and personal care tasks are fulfilled by professional carers. Live-in care is also an option people are turning to if they live in rural areas and want to stay in their own home: it can be very difficult to find carers willing and able to travel long distances to provide parts of a package of care at home. Having live-in care can be a solution to the challenge of organising care in remote areas with long travel times.
Sometimes, when people ask about care homes, they are really concerned about something else. For example, we often speak to people who are worried about an elderly parent living alone. They tell us: we both work full-time and we try our best to visit Mum or Dad, but they are lonely and spend too much time alone. Many people are not aware of all the different options available. Care agencies can take elderly people out to go shopping, take them to participate in clubs and activities and provide companionship, such as visiting and supporting them to play board games or undertake a craft. Care services offer much beyond meals, washing and dressing.
We can advise you on funding for care in your own home, explain the rules and regulations and how to organise a care needs assessment. If you are self-funding (paying for your own care), although this will have financial implications, it does mean you will have a wide choice of services. We can help by identifying what is available in your area and organising a package of care for you if you wish. Our advice and support is completely free to the families and individuals using our service and we have been helping people choose and arrange care for more than 20 years.