One care option which has been growing rapidly in recent years is live-in care. This involves the carer (or a team of two) living in your home to provide support on a 24- hour basis, seven days a week. The major advantage of live-in care is of course enabling the individual to continue to live in their own home with support at all times. Home life is maintained as far as possible: pets can be kept, for example and helping to look after pets can be part of the support provided by live-in carers.
Live-in care may be a particularly good option if an elderly couple need full-time care and support. The costs of live-in care are likely to be comparable or even a little less than the fees of two people moving into a care home. Live-in care is also being increasingly considered in rural areas: if carers have to travel long distances to reach people, it is difficult to find people for these roles. To drive 20 or 30 miles for a session of one hour or less with an individual is sometimes not viable, whereas with live-in care, carers will be prepared to travel much longer distances and thus the resource of potential carers becomes much larger.
Many live-in carers have specialist training in dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke and multiple sclerosis care and having live-in carers allows for great continuity and mutual understanding. There is often a benefit for the whole family as relatives are released from the demanding, time-consuming demands of day to day care and can focus on social and emotional support.
Of course, the success of a live-in care arrangement is highly dependent upon the relationship between the individual (or couple) and carer. It is important to carefully consider how you feel about the living arrangements and how well it will work to have a person who is not a family member permanently resident in the house. The needs of the carer must be carefully considered; they will be working but equally, while resident, your home will become their home. Some arrangements involve two carers rotating with each other to provide 24/7 support, others involve a main carer with others brought in to support and allow the main carer to have breaks.
Although the upheaval of moving from your own home into a care home is very significant, people often benefit from the social interaction and programme of activities available. Live-in care needs to consider and support the hobbies and activities the individual is engaged in and enable them to continue; it is important to guard against social isolation. An isolated individual supported by an isolated live-in carer is not likely to be a successful solution.