Following on from last night’s BBC’s Panorama about the appalling treatment of one care home resident, this guest blog by Carefound, a specialist provider of home care services and dementia care to elderly people (www.carefound.co.uk) is a timely reminder of what should be considered when thinking about elderly care either for yourself or a loved one.
Considering care for yourself or a loved one is a hugely important decision which should lead to a much higher quality of life and the ability to remain comfortable, safe and happy in an environment of choice. However, prior to implementing life changes or enlisting help there are various things that should always be considered.
- When should I begin to think about elderly care?
All too often the process of considering elderly care is the response to an accident, illness or significant decline in health resulting in people being forced to make life changing decisions at short notice. It is therefore encouraged that individuals and families consider their future needs at the earliest stage possible. Remember, planning never does any harm and it is important to ensure that individuals are in control of decisions regarding their care to the greatest extent possible.
2. How do I know if I need elderly care?
Accepting help for the first time can often be difficult for individuals and their families. Before seeking support try to understand what your exact needs are. You may be seeking care because of a specialist condition such as dementia or following a suggestion from a friend or family member. It may simply be that you require a small amount of help at home in the form of domestic help or companionship. Enlisting support does not have to involve moving into a care home or even full-time help in your own home.
Get as much advice as possible and talk things through with friends, family and health professionals such as your GP. You may also wish to speak with a care provider directly – a good organisation should be open to discussing your situation with you and also offering examples of how other families have been able to improve their quality of life.
3. What care options are available to me?
The circumstances of each individual and family can differ – any chosen care option should meet your needs at all times.
Many people prefer to receive a personalised service of care in their own home, and a provider such as Carefound can offer a high quality, flexible home care service which can range from 1 hour per day to full-time live-in care. This is increasingly viewed as a genuine alternative to residential care and is especially attractive for couples.
There are also various residential care options available today, including:
- Residential care home – accommodation, meals and personal care provided in a communal environment without nursing care.
- Residential nursing home – accommodation, meals and personal care in a communal environment with nursing care and qualified nurses in attendance.
- Assisted living – also referred to as extra care housing, care villages or close care housing, these facilities typically comprise apartments / bungalows with care / support available on-site.
- Sheltered / retirement housing – typically apartments with an on-site warden and alarm system, but no care provision.
4. How do I find out about a local care service?
Before making a decision about care you should get a feel for what options are available to you. Of course, speaking with friends and relatives is a good first step in order to get any personal recommendations. You will also be able to obtain a list of all local care services through the Care Quality Commission and / or the Adult Services department of your local authority.
5. What should I look for in a care service?
When considering a specific care service try to draw up a list of questions that are important to you and where possible seek support from a friend or relative as a second opinion. Also try to obtain information from existing clients of the service and ensure that they are happy with the care they receive.
Important aspects of any service to consider include:
- The basis on which care is provided – is the service flexible and focused on your specific requirements?
- How staff are engaged – are they fully employed and subject to a comprehensive recruitment and selection process? Are they well rewarded with the genuine opportunity to develop?
- Staff should be sufficiently skilled – do they undergo a through induction programme and receive ongoing training in all aspects of the care they provide?
- Help with specialist conditions – where relevant, do staff receive training in specialist conditions such as dementia?
- Management of the service – who is responsible for the day-to-day management of care and who has overall responsibility? If part of a franchise or a national organisation it may not simply be a case of being able to rely on the ‘brand’.
6. What will my care cost?
The cost of care will vary significantly depending on the type and quality of service purchased. Home care can be purchased on an hourly or a live-in basis, with the latter typically costing a similar amount to residential care.
The average cost of residential care in the UK is approximately £530 per week, increasing to £700 per week for those who need nursing care. However, fees vary depending on the location and quality of home and can therefore be substantially more.
7. Who will pay for my care?
Prior to receiving care you are entitled to a care assessment from the Adult Services department of your local authority. This will include a financial assessment in order to determine if you are eligible for help in paying for your care. The financial assessment will review both your capital and income. In many cases, if an individual owns their home and a spouse isn’t still living in it, they are likely be deemed a “self-funder” and will receive no help from the local authority (unless they require nursing care in which case a contribution will be available).
If you are required to self-fund your care it is important to remember that there are many financial options available such as equity release or an annuity contract and you should always seek professional financial advice with regards to these.
8. Will my care be reviewed?
Any care provider should monitor and review your individual circumstances on a regular basis in order to ensure that the service provided meets your individual needs. The provision of care should be a flexible, evolving process in which you are actively involved.
9. What if I have a complaint about my care?
If you wish to complain about the care you receive it should always be made easy for you to do so. Be sure to read and understand a care provider’s complaints procedure, and remember that individuals and families can complain to external bodies including the local authority, the Care Quality Commission or the Local Government Ombudsman.
10. What if I want to change my care provider?
Choice and control is a key aspect of enlisting care services and hence it is important to understand the terms under which services are enlisted before doing so. The terms of services purchased should be fully documented (including costs), and never hesitate to query these should you or your family have any concerns.
Source: Carefound, Laing and Buisson.