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What is live-in homecare – and why is it a real alternative to residential care?

Written by Age Space

When it comes to caring for an elderly parent, we all want to ensure they are happy, healthy, and able to enjoy later life as much as possible. If one of your parents is no longer able to care for themselves – whether through old age or an illness – it’s a difficult and emotional time and it’s important to choose care that best suits your parent’s needs.

Live-in homecare is a long established but little-known alternative to residential care, but it’s growing in popularity as a viable option. With live-in homecare, carers live in a person’s home, 24 hours a day, allowing older people to stay in familiar surroundings, with pets and alongside friends and family. Everyone has different care requirements but it’s not just about giving essential support such as washing, dressing, preparing meals, help with medication and housekeeping; live-in homecare provides vital companionship too. Many carers and nurses are also specially trained to cope with particular conditions such as dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, MS or palliative care.

With no rigid rules or timetables, each day is planned around the client, giving a sense of independence and dignity. Really getting to know an older person is one of the key advantages of live-in homecare. Everyone has their own routines and preferences. Something as simple as knowing how someone takes their tea – Earl Grey with a hint of lemon or a cup of strong English breakfast with two sugars – can make a big difference. It really is about caring for the whole person, not just the age or health issue.

There is overwhelming evidence that this kind of constant, considered, one-to-one care produces a far better experience for the vast majority of people. The freedom of being able to ask for a favourite meal, see a football match, sit with a much-loved pet, or be taken to the seaside on a sunny day means quality of life is truly enhanced. As one daughter explained to me recently: “My parents were treated with kindness and respect. This was a real lifeline of supported independent home living – initially for my mother, and then for my father. As a family we had complete trust in the carer; a trust that was well founded.”

Carers are people with a special balance of dedication, reliability and compassion combined with sociability, good humour and common sense. I know all Hub members require very high standards of live-in carers – we normally reject between 92 to 95 per cent of applicants. Live-in carers have often previously worked in nursing or care, while others arrive at caring as a career after looking after family members.

Although full-time care represents a significant financial outlay, live-in fees can compare very favourably with residential homes, especially where couples are looked after together, in which case it tends to be significantly less. In all cases, I would recommend talking to a financial advisor who specialises in later life planning, such as http://www.symponia.co.uk  or SOLLA: http://societyoflaterlifeadvisers.co.uk.

Martin Ross is Operations Director at Agincare, one of the founder members of The Live-in Homecare Information Hub. The Hub aims to raise awareness of live-in homecare and its benefits. www.stayinmyhome.co.uk is a valuable information resource developed by The Hub – a coalition of 14 leading live-in homecare providers.

Do you have experience of choosing live-in care for an elderly relative? Share your story or see what others are talking about in Age Space Forum.

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Age Space