Conversations with friends about how we plan to age – gracefully or otherwise – always end up with the idea of living out our days together in our own but shared space. Student accommodation/flat-sharing on a bigger, tidier, and hopefully reassuringly more expensive scale.
We’d pool our resources for any care that was needed, and our more ambitious thoughts turn to the employment of a troop of willing and cheerful helpers – gardening, cooking, fixing etc., who would look after us and our property. We’d have cocktail hours, lunches and outings. And the sun would always be shining. (And we would have won the lottery to afford our dream).
It sounds like a care home. No. It would be care at home. No-one would be a burden to their children or relatives, we would entertain ourselves and eachother, and we would be able to age however we wanted to together in our own home, in charge of our own care.
‘Home First’ is the mantra increasingly in the UK and the USA as the priority for elderly parents and relatives. It is about enabling our ageing population to remain healthy, happy and independent in their own homes for as long as possible.
Care at home comes in various forms and has different titles: it roughly splits into 2 types – domiciliary care (home care, day care) or live-in care. Domiciliary care is essentially someone coming in for part or all of the day or night, and live-in care is what it says on the tin. Domiciliary care can include anything from washing, dressing, shopping and personal care; Live-in care will cover all of that and crucially for many elderly people, companionship. Nursing care or specialist needs such as Dementia care will most likely need to be found as a specific service.
You can arrange and pay for care in a couple of different ways: with a care provider – domiciliary or live-in – who will employ the carers; they will be responsible for their employment, training etc., as well as ensuring holiday/sickness cover. You will pay the provider.
The alternative is paying a fee to a care agency which operates as a recruiter/matchmaker – finding you the carer who you then employ and pay directly. As an employer you will take on various responsibilities including arranging holiday/sickness cover, as well as managing the relationship between the carer and your relative.
Domiciliary care is often charged at an hourly or task rate depending upon the requirements. Live-in care is usually a weekly or monthly salary fee/charge and if you’re the employer then you will also need to pay NI contributions and pension. The costs of live-in care are on a par with care home fees, from £800 – £1200 per week. And breathe….
Deciding which sort of care your parent or relative might need or what could be feasible financially and practically may not be easy. But there is information on our site to help; a whole range of articles from how to employ a carer, to what does a live-in carer need to live in.
Increasingly tech is playing a part in the delivery of care – in terms of back office functions for care agencies such as rosters and payroll, to in-home monitoring and communication between carers and families. This is all to be welcomed, but in no way takes place of human beings.
For some, a care home may ultimately be the only option to ensure their safety and well-being. But Home First should be the gold standard priority for all of us. Whether or not you choose the ‘Friends Reunited’ model is entirely up to you.
Annabel James is founder of Age Space. Her views – and her choice of friends to age gracefully with – are her own.