As we get older, living independently at home gets harder to maintain safely. Joints get stiff, eyesight might get worse and keys may seem to appear in different places a little more often.
The good news is that the next step doesn’t always have to be to move directly into a residential care home; there are other independent living options available across Cambridgeshire to be considered first.
It may be that your elderly relative is still able to remain in their own, current home if a few minor adjustments are made to make it safer to live there. For advice on this check out Age Space’s pages on Safer Independent Living in Cambridgeshire and Funding Home Adaptations in Cambridgeshire.
Getting Help from the EAC
The Elderly Accommodation Council (EAC) works in partnership with Cambridgeshire County Council and local district councils to help elderly people find out what the best move is to combatting problems they are having with their current living situation.
The Housing Options for Older People (HOOP) Tool is a questionnaire that helps narrows down the issues your relative might be facing and then offers advice to direct you to services based on the results. This could be pointing you to local home adaptation agencies or sheltered housing options in the area you want.
Take the HOOP Questionnaire to get advice on Housing Options for Older People on the EAC website.
Home Care Services in Cambridgeshire
Home Care services can be a great option to consider before moving your elderly relative into a care home or sheltered housing. This allows them to maintain their independence at home whilst getting a little help around the house with tasks like cooking and cleaning.
You can explore our Home Care Directory for Cambridgeshire to find options across the county, as well as those in neighbouring areas as listed below.
Downsizing in Cambridgeshire
The first route that most people decide to explore when living independently in their current homes is moving to a smaller, more suitable house – downsizing.
Not only does moving like this free up capital, which can be used to help with future care needs, but it can also make day-to-day living easier, by removing stairs, reducing the area that needs to be kept clean and tidy and decreasing garden upkeep. Downsizing is also an opportunity to move closer to the services your elderly relative might use more often in upcoming years, like shops within walking distance, transport links and a GP – this is especially worth considering in case they are no longer able to drive themselves.
Making sure your elderly parents have access to good transport links is paramount in making sure they don’t feel isolated, especially if they no longer feel like they can drive.
For information relating to Public Bus Transport it is best to go to Cambridgeshire County Council’s website, where you can plan your journey, look up timetables and learn about free bus passes.
For comprehensive guides on Community Transport Services and Patient Transport Services, follow the links below.
Sheltered Housing in Cambridgeshire
Sheltered Housing doesn’t remove any of the independence or freedom that an older person has, but does introduce the first form of regular checking and care assistance; allowing their family to feel a little more relaxed as to their wellbeing.
People of a certain age (60+) can buy or rent houses and flats within a self-contained space with communal facilities, which is attended regularly (usually daily) by a ‘scheme manager’, who gives advice to residents, ensures communal areas are clean and arranges maintenance and repairs. Sheltered Housing is also usually accompanied by a 24-hour emergency alarm system for residents to use if, for example, they have a fall.
If your relative wants to remain at home, but needs more support, then you should consider live-in care. You can put together a package of care that meets your loved one's needs for independent living.
Helping Hands are a family owned home care provider offering high-quality care at home for people in Cambridgeshire
Sponsored by Helping Hands
The major downsides to sheltered housing versus any other downsizing option is that residents will have a to pay a service charge on top of usual bills. Sheltered housing also does not include medical or personal care.
You can find about the sheltered housing schemes in each district in Cambridgeshire by following the links below. In some cases, the local council has deferred social housing responsibilities to another company who you will need to contact to find out about sheltered housing schemes in that area:
Cambridgeshire Retirement Homes
Retirement Homes differ from Sheltered Housing, mainly in that they are specifically for older people. They still don’t come with any care facilities, however they do have an attending estate manager to deal with upkeep and repairs.
When renting a retirement home, there can often be confusing terminology around the lease length – retirement housing can usually come with a lease upwards of 99 years. This just means your parent won’t have to worry about moving before they need to.
As with Sheltered Housing, the facilities available vary greatly, depending on how much you are willing to spend if you choose to go privately. Some schemes can have restaurants, swimming pools and grand gardens within the property.
Extra Care Housing
If it turns out that your family member does in fact need a little more care but not so much that they want to look into residential or nursing care homes, Extra Care Housing is a good alternative.
Extra Care Housing schemes are essentially sheltered housing/retirement homes, with on-site care support staff and domestic services.
To have access to this type of housing, the elderly person will have to undergo a care needs assessment in Cambridgeshire. In addition to care needs, your relative must also have a housing need, in that their current living situation is no longer suitable for them.
The problems with extra care housing are that:
- it can be hard to access – your relatives care needs might be too high or too low
- spaces are often very limited
- service charges are more expensive than with other schemes