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What’s live-in homecare like for your parent?

Written by Age Space

Live-in homecare is growing in popularity as a real alternative to residential care, chosen by families with older relatives who wish to stay in their own home. Maybe it’s just too much to care for a relative and juggle family and work life; your parent may have specific care needs; they may not want to leave their local community; or be distraught at the thought of leaving a beloved pet. Whatever the reason, this well established but little-known option has many benefits: it can significantly improve the quality of later life and provide much needed companionship too.

Through my experience of managing a live-in homecare company, I’ve met many families who had tremendously positive experiences with their live-in carer. I wanted to share their insights about what it’s really like.

For a start, it’s only natural to be nervous about a stranger coming to live with you and tending to all your personal needs. In fact, I often hear that when people introduce the idea of someone coming to live with their parent, initially they can be a little hesitant.

A common theme is that the carers themselves enhance the lives of people significantly. Jane, 89 has Parkinson’s and needs around-the-clock support. She told me that they all bring something different, whether it’s stories, recipes or mementoes: “Some enjoy reading to me while others will sing along and they all have a sense of adventure and usually return from time off with photographs. It never occurred to me that anybody would find me interesting – I know I’m in my twilight years – but they do!”

Another client, Dean, also told me his father, who is living with Lewy Body Dementia, benefited from the fresh influence a carer brings to the home: “Live-in homecare has invigorated a very difficult situation. Although habit and routine is reassuring, the carers all bring something new to experience. Dad’s first carer loved cooking Asian food – Dad was uncertain at first and then grew to like it. It’s great when a home is alive and fluid and you can embrace change, because it breathes life into something that could otherwise be very difficult or depressing.”

Live-in homecare also offers a huge peace of mind to relatives, particularly when they live further away. One son said to me recently: “Dad enjoys watching TV with his carers – he knows who he likes and doesn’t like on The Voice! He also gets out in his garden in the summer and enjoys a cup of tea under the willow tree – where he’s appreciated many pleasurable hours over the years.” Another daughter agrees: “Live-in care enabled my father to stay in his own home which he would not otherwise have been able to do and which both he and I greatly appreciated.” 

It’s the one-to-one attention which also provides comfort for relatives. Wendy is 90 and her daughter arranged live-in care when a series of illnesses meant she required more support. She told me that when her Mum recently had a bad fall, the carer went in the ambulance with her to hospital. She arrived to find they were already sending her Mum home and was initially shocked, but recalls: “I quickly realised that the advantage of live-in homecare was that Mum would get one-to-one attention – something she definitely wouldn’t get in hospital. I see this as the major benefit of live-in homecare.”

Irvine Manning is Director of Vanguard Care and founder member of The Live-in Homecare Information Hub. To find out more about live-in homecare for a family member, please visit www.stayinmyhome.co.uk, a website created by The Live-in Homecare Information Hub.

Do you have experience of hiring a live-in carer? Come and share your story or see what others are talking about in Age Space Forum.

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Age Space