We know how difficult it can be to choose the right care for your loved ones. It is one of the most important decisions you’ll make.
Ideally, you want to keep your loved ones as independent as possible. You don’t want to give them too much care too soon, as this reduces their independence. There are also cost implications. However, at the same time, you need to think about safety, loneliness and how much care they need. So you much choose the right care for your loved ones, at the right time.
Have a read through our at-a-glance guide of options to see some of the people who can support you, and when you might need them to do so.
Talk to your GP practice as they will be able to give you advice. Make sure the GP is in the loop on all your major decisions so that you both know you are doing the right thing for your loved one.
Friends, Family, and Neighbours
Sometimes all people need is a bit of a helping hand with some of the more taxing aspects of life. Seriously consider whether you can keep it between family, friends, and neighbors. You can enlist others to help you do the shopping, even better you can set-up online shopping to save time.
Whilst many older people are perfectly capable of getting out and about and cooking for themselves, they may need a hand with heavier tasks like maintaining their garden or cleaning.
With a supportive community of friends, family, and neighbors, little errands can be shared – but what many older people miss – particularly if they are living alone – is company. Are you able to make sure that your loved ones are not spending extended periods of time completely alone? Is it possible to visit social events like book clubs, outings, and social events independently? If not, then you might want to think about the next step up.
However, sometimes demands grow to the point that you can no longer meet them whilst maintaining your own life. This is where you should look to make your first steps into the care industry. Initially, you don’t need to enlist the help of fully qualified carers. Basic carers, cleaners and gardeners can all help. They can keep the house in good condition, make sure the fridge is stocked, and can even take your loved one to and from social events, the shops, and hospital appointments. This is not only cost-effective but also the best way to maintain your loved one’s independence. They may never need more than this.
Carers cannot replace the companionship of lifelong friends but helping older people to maintain those friendships is definitely something they can help with.
Sometimes you need a little more support from a qualified carer. This is often the case after an accident or fall, a recent hospital procedure. Alternatively, if their mental or physical faculties decline to such an extent, a more experienced carer will be required.
Qualified carers are trained, not only to manage and help with mental and physical frailties, but also to observe and connect with their patients. These are people who have chosen to pursue a career in care, so they actively enjoy it. They can help you with some of the more precarious tasks; like moving and handling, toileting and bathing, administering medication as well as managing dementia and other conditions. They can also help you to perform these tasks better yourself.
Qualified carers will also cook, clean and help them maintain their independence by taking them to social events or appointments. They can also advise you on care plans and how best to create a safe environment in the home.
On the advanced end of the spectrum of qualified carers, you will find people with extensive experience caring for the most complex cases, including MS and Cerebral Palsy. They are capable of a wide array of operations such as PEG feeding, ventilators and, catheters. They can visit a few times a week to multiple times a day, depending on your needs, which may develop over time.
Flexibility and continuity are key. Increasing or decreasing the level of care when needed, means you are not paying for visits you don’t need. Having the same carer visit each time also means that they will be familiar with your loved one and have the opportunity to build a rapport together. They are also more likely to notice any changes in symptoms or behavior if the same qualified carer visits regularly.
The next step up might be live-in care. Eventually, your loved one may need round-the-clock assistance with day to day living. Rather than moving into a home, a process that can seriously impact health, memory, and social life, you can arrange live-in care if you have the available space. Not only is this often a better option, it is also usually cheaper than paying for a care home. Live-in care keeps your loved one in an environment that they are familiar with, and a community that they know well.
As an alternative to live-in care, assisted living offers access to a community of people in the local area. To access this, you often have to sell the house to buy an apartment in the development and pay a hefty service fee, however, the benefits are evident and can work out to be more cost-effective than live-in care. People living in these developments are able to live independently, safe in the knowledge that there is access to significantly more care if they should need it. This is a great option, especially if you were already thinking of downsizing. Because the facilities are like mini neighbourhoods, residents get the benefits of company, whilst retailing their own living accommodation, so they can choose how much socialising they do.
Care homes cater for individuals who need a much higher level of care and support. For a weekly or monthly fee, they provide round-the-clock care with access to nurses and doctors. They often have high dependency beds and the environment is often very sociable and relaxing. It is a good option when you need a high degree of care as they offer you peace of mind – you know that your loved ones are being cared for in an environment where medical assistance is available quickly.