If you are reading this then you may have realised that you’re now in the zone of elderly care. It could be for either of your elderly parents or a relative, a neighbour or a partner.
This is our Beginner’s Guide to Elderly Care – our top ten tips – so make a cup of tea, pull up a chair and relax….
The realisation that their world is changing may have been gradual. Or you may have been catapulted into it by a medical emergency. Either way, from your perspective it may seem worrying, incredibly sad or just plain scary.
The Beginner’s Guide to Elderly Care Services will give you a head start about things to consider and plans to make; it will give you an outline of the kinds of services and organisations that you might need to make contact with.
It won’t solve all your problems but we hope very much that it will help you at a time when you might be wondering where to start.
1. First things first – details
You may live a way away from your parents and have lived independently of eachother for decades. Whilst you may know their friends and neighbours and general networks – do you actually have information you may need? This is what you need to know:
- Contact details for neighbours and friends who live close by
- Name and details for the GP and other professionals – lawyer, accountant, physio etc
- Details of any medication already being taken (particularly things like blood thinners)
- Contact details for the cleaner, the gardener and anyone else regularly in the home
- Spare house keys and information about keycodes, burglar alarms etc
- The kennels or cattery details should you need the pets to have a holiday
2. The Go To Folder
- The Will – including executors
- Relevant information such as National Insurance numbers, bank details including accounts and passwords where relevant
- Insurance details – life insurance and other personal policies, house, car, pets etc
- Car details – insurance, MOT
- Details about the house – utilities, lease etc
- Legal information – power of attorney or other documents
- Medical information – Advance Directive or living will/Do not rescuscitate orders or other wishes
- In the event of death information – people to contact, type of service desired and other useful info
3.Three questions to ask
The answers to 3 important questions might well dictate the support and care your parents are able to receive, as well as where they receive it. They are:
- Where do you want to live if and when you need more help?
- What sort of care would you like if you need it (live in, agency, none)
- How will this most likely be funded (sell the house, own money, someone elses)
The answers to these questions will point in various directions, for example, own home, live-out care, self-funded – or downsize, live-in care, part self funded/part funded.
4. What Care and Support services?
Maybe your parent has taken a fall and is in hospital but hoping to be discharged soon; perhaps one has died and the remaining spouse is really struggling to cope; or they have just gone downhill with various ailments and are now frail and in need of help.
There are many permutations of care – so we’ve decided to list the sources of help and care, and the types of care you might need – in the hope that you will find what you need:
There are many elderly care services out there but it’s important that before you go looking and investing your money into other services that you consult your GP first. Your elderly parents GP Surgery should be the first port of call and the local NHS services: you might need permission/sign a form to discuss your parents health needs.
There are many services that should be/might be available through the GP – including access to a district nurse, referral to falls and continence clinics, exercise referrals and access to services such as physio or OT for more information.
Through the GP or directly via the Local Authority website you will be able to make contact with the Adult Social Care department. This is where you need to go for the all important care needs assessment, carers assessment and financial assessment. Local Authority Adult Social Care (social services)
There are 3 main options to consider when looking for elderly care services: hiring an agency, hiring a carer direct or considering a move to a Care Home. There are directories for each/all as per the links below. They are all regulated by the Care Quality Commission, and it is really worth paying attention to the individual reviews. We also explain the different things to consider in deciding what sort of care.
There are thousands of organisations working in the elderly care sector, from lunch clubs to large national charities, driving services to home adaptations. It can be very confusing working out who provides what, but here are a few charities to start you off.
5. Home adaptations
Enabling people to stay in their own home as long as possible may mean making some changes inside and out. It’s worth being assessed by social services to see what adaptations might be needed.
There are lots of things you can do to make it easier to get around, which include:
- Grab rails – in the bathroom and the loo, near the stairs.
- Flooring – those old rugs are big trip hazards, and if someone has dementia a change in floor surface can be really confusing and make walking inside the house much harder
- Wet room – much easier to put one in these days and perfect for wheelchair or mobility aid access
- Raised letter box – to avoid too much bending down to pick up the post
- Glass fronted kitchen cupboards and lots of drawers – much easier than rootling around in the back of dark cupboards
- Keysafe, entryphone, personal security – there is lots of great tech to keep people safe and secure in their own homes
6. Coming home from hospital
Leaving hospital particularly after a lengthy stay can be traumatic for everyone. Here are a few good ideas which might ease the process; there should be a discharge co-ordinator or hospital social worker who will be in charge of the arrangements – make yourself known to them as soon as you can; make sure your parent is infact medically fit (being discharged is decided by the consultant or someone working on their behalf).
There should also be an assessment and subsequent care plan given to you which will set out what support is needed after leaving hospital. This may also include “re-ablement” such as physio or other services.
There are many elderly care services out there that offer support in buying home adaptions e.g. wheelchair, stairlifts and handle grips.
7. Mobility Aids
There are lots of products on the market that can help with declining mobility; from simple walking sticks through rollators and onto wheelchairs, there is something probably for everyone. Elderly care services can range from trained care workers caring for your elderly parent to products available to help your elderly parent around the home.
You might also want to think about a stair lift (there are more providers than just Stannah), or even an internal lift if there is the space. Other products to help with mobility include adapted armchairs and beds that make it easier to get in and out of.
Look online for the best products; there may also be a mobility shop close to where you live which will hire out equipment or sell it to you.
8. Funding Elderly Care Services
In England, anyone with assets over £23,500 will have to fund their own care if it is means tested. Funding for care is available through the local authority, the state and the NHS. It’s a complex area as some funding will cancel other funding out, and some is means tested and some isn’t.
There are 2 types of funding that are well worth keeping an eye out for – Attendance Allowance which is available to anyone aged over 65 regardless of finances who needs some support; NHS continuing care is funding for anyone with primary health needs – this is hard to get because you have to fulfil certain criteria – but again – worth looking in to.
If your parents/family are funding the care, then take advice on how best to manage the family money to fund the care. You might want to look at schemes such as equity release, or care annuities or selling the family house – these are all big decisions that require careful consideration and advice from qualified professionals such as SOLLA-registered financial advisers (Society of later life advisers).
9. And finally…. Don’t do it all yourself, and last but not least try not to forget to have fun
If you have siblings or relatives who can help, then do draft them in. Our best suggestion is to give everyone different roles which play to their individual circumstances and availability. This can be fraught, so it’s important to keep the lines of communication open.
And, speaking about communication, it can be really easy to only have conversations about care, and only to think about the care of an elderly parent or relative. Try to do as many of the things you used to do together – you may need to be a bit creative in the interpretation, or you may need to find new ways of having fun together. There are many elderly care services out there that can help you so don’t do it all alone. There are professionals and services that can support you.
Do please look on the rest of the website www.agespace.org for more information about all these sections, and more.