Live-in carers, as the term suggests, provide round-the-clock care and support for older people in their own home. They can provide 24-hour-a-day care that is tailored to the individual they are caring for and their specific needs.
As well as carrying out a range of duties such as cooking and assisting with personal care, carers can also become a great source of friendship and companionship to elderly people.
Below you can learn more about what live-in carers do, what they don’t do, and what their main duties are.
If you want some help to choose a live-in care company that will suit your relative, you may be interested in reading our guide to the 10 Best Live-in Care Providers and Agencies.
What do live-in carers do?
Live-in carers are on hand night and day for whenever your relative needs any type of support. The duties of a live-in carer are not fixed, and are likely to change from one day to the next. Live-in carers can provide as much or as little help as their client wants them to.
Below we have listed some of the most central carer duties, but this is not an exhaustive list of everything that they can provide help with.
Key duties of a live-in carer
Assisting with personal care
Live-in carers can provide support with all aspects of personal care including dressing, undressing, washing, oral hygiene, and using the toilet.
Preparing and cooking meals
Live-in carers can provide cooked food for your relative, helping them to eat nutritiously. Many live-in carers make an effort to understand their clients' favourite meals and make them when they can.
Understanding nutrition is an essential part of being a live-in carer because some medical conditions require particular diets, or special ways of preparing foods.
Live-in carers can go out and buy groceries in order to cook meals. You will usually develop a system of expensing groceries and other items bought for your relative.
Live-in carers can help to oversee any medication that an older person needs to be taking. This way you can have peace of mind that your relative will not forget their medicine, or take it twice.
The live-in carer can also keep clear notes as to what has been taken, for how long, and when new prescriptions may be needed etc. This can be passed on to the family using mobile apps.
Care assistants can make and change beds, tidy rooms, do laundry and ironing, and carry out light cleaning duties.
One of the key duties of a live-in carer is to provide companionship. They make an effort to get to know the person they are caring for and their interests.
For many people with live-in carers, simply having someone friendly on hand to chat with about their opinions and experiences can improve their happiness and quality of life immeasurably.
Helping with mobility
Assistance with getting around, both in and outside of the house, is one of the key duties of care assistants. Live-in carers are trained in safe methods of moving individuals who struggle with their mobility with tasks such as e.g. getting in the bath, or getting in and out of bed.
Some live-in carers can also drive your relative in order to get to places.
Looking after pets
Pets are a great source of company for older people. They are also a key reason that some older people want to carry on living at home. Live-in carers can help to care for pets, including keeping them fed and taking them for walks.
One of the duties of a live-in carer can be to look after your relative's garden.
Some older peoples require ‘waking nights’ care. This refers to when an individual needs their live-in carer to be awake during the night because they need care or support throughout the night. This will almost certainly be done by carers working in shifts over the course of the week.
Working hours of live-in carers
Live-in carers are expected to work between 8 and 10 hours a day, but be on hand during a 24 hour period in case they are needed. The 8 to 10 hours refers to the amount of time they are expected to spend carrying out their key care duties.
With no rigid rules or timetables, the day is planned around your relative and their needs on a given day.
In most cases, live-in carers have a designated numbers of hours off-duty every week. This is usually around 14 hours per week, which tends to be broken up into 2 hours off-duty each day. If the client is unable to be alone for this period, then carer breaks can be organised for a time in which family are visiting or your parent is taking a nap.
Because of the long hours that live-in care workers are on-hand to help your relative, many care agencies have 2 live-in carers assigned to each individual client. They will usually operate on a rotation basis. One carer may live with your relative for a month, for example, and then take a 2 week break. Another carer will take over for this period. Live-in care providers aim to ensure your relative has the same few familiar faces caring for them.
Specialist live-in care
Care agencies can provide specialist live-in carers for people living with medical conditions such as Dementia, Parkinson’s, and Multiple Sclerosis. These specialist live-in carers are trained in providing care for people with these conditions.
Being a live-in carer to someone with dementia, requires different skills than needed for regular elderly or non-dementia care. Agencies train their specialist live-in carers in how to communicate with someone with dementia, how to stimulate them by using old memories, and how to support people with dementia when they are feeling confused or distressed.
What do live-in carers not do?
Live-in carers are not generally expected to provide nursing care. This means that if your relative needs more complex medical care, such as diabetes management, or requiring regular ventilation, then you may need to find specialist live-in carers. You may also be able to add specialist care in to the routine. Some live-in care providers do have nurse-led clinical carers that can provide support.
You should always discuss clearly and openly your relative’s care needs when organising live-in care from a provider or agency, as well as asking them questions about their live-in care provision.