You try and help your parents as much as possible. You visit most days to check up on them and you might even have a part-time carer for them during the day when you can’t be there to help. But as time has passed you find them needing more and more help. Maybe they need help getting up in the morning and getting to bed in the evening. Maybe they can’t get around as easily as before or they’re struggling to do daily tasks like cooking and cleaning. If this sounds familiar it may be time to consider live-in care.
It’s a big decision and there can be a sense of guilt that you can’t care for them yourself, but one thing’s for sure – you want to provide the best care possible. We’ve put together a list of 9 things you should know about live-in care to help you make the best decision for you and your loved one.
What is live-in care?
A live-in carer lives with your loved one, in their own home and they provide round-the-clock support. Live-in care can provide a range of services to help your loved one.
Generally speaking, live-in care provides the following services:
Care: assistance with personal tasks like bathing and dressing
Daily routine: morning wake-up and getting ready for bed-time
Wellness: reminders to take medication and enjoy a healthy diet
Housekeeping: helping with chores like laundry, cleaning, and linen
Companionship: warm, stimulating conversation and nurturing friendship
Activities: sharing in hobbies and activities, inside and outside of the home
Cooking: grocery shopping and home-cooked nutritious meals
Transportation: accompanying to doctor’s appointments and social events
How can live-in care help my loved one?
Live-in care offers an alternative to a residential or nursing home. It allows your loved one to stay in the comfort of their own home whilst facilitating an independent lifestyle. In fact, research has shown that the best care outcomes occur when elderly people are able to stay in their own home, in familiar surroundings, with maximum independence. Your loved one will be able to follow their own routine, keep up with their friends and neighbors, and live their life how they want.
When does my parent need live-in care?
It can often be difficult to the see the signs that your loved one is no longer coping as they can be very subtle. Furthermore, many older people won’t request help out of fear of losing independence, thus the responsibility often falls on the family to recognize these signs. It’s important to be vigilant in this case to identify when they need extra help. You may also have already organized part-time care to assist with tasks around the house and to keep an eye on them when you’re not there. But if this is not enough it may be time to consider full-time care at home.
Common signs that your loved one needs care include:
The difficulty with walking, balance, and mobility
Forgetfulness, including taking medication, appointments, or recounting their day
Noticeable decline in personal hygiene, appearance, and housekeeping
Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
Changes in mood or mood swings
Live-in care vs care home
It’s important to weigh up the options between home care and residential care to make sure you make the right decision for your loved one.
Advantages of live-in care at home
- Your loved one can stay in their familiar surroundings
- Your loved one remains in control of their care and can help choose their carer
- Receive one-to-one care
- The value of their home isn’t taken into account when calculating how much you have to pay towards care
Disadvantages of live-in care at home
- Carers may change from week-to-week if you use a home care agency
- Your loved one’s home may need to be modified to meet their specific needs
- They may not socialize as much as they could in a residential home
Advantages of residential care
- Everything is organized for your loved one
- People are always around your loved one, providing them with the company of like-minded people
- No expense of running a home
- Fully qualified nursing staff on hand 24 hours per day in nursing homes
Disadvantages of residential care
- Residents often experience reduced independence
- Your loved one has to move out of their home that they may have lived in for many years
- They cannot bring all of their belongings
- They may have to follow a stricter schedule
- Residential homes can be prohibitively expensive, costing upwards of £41,000 a year
You need to choose what is right for your loved one and their circumstances. To make sure that you make the right decision you should involve them in conversations about care as far as possible.
Discussing live-in care with your aging parent
It’s important that you maintain an open dialogue with your loved one when discussing care to encourage a positive care outcome. This can help to give them more control and autonomy over the situation, especially if they fear losing independence and control. Empowering your loved one can also help them realize that care can allow them to continue living independently. Moreover, by involving them in discussions you can ensure that you know exactly what help they need and want.
Be sure to consider the following when discussing care with your loved one:
- Plan the conversation
- Discuss care sooner rather than later
- Define the need
- Listen to what they want and need
- Be patient and listen
- Consider the options
- Pre-empt any changes that they may experience
How much does it cost?
The cost of care can seem prohibitively expensive and finances are of course an important consideration when choosing care and vary from region to region. The Money Advice Service has produced an independent guide to funding care which helps explain different types of funding available for long-term care.
According to their website, the costs can be as follows:
- From £28,500 per year for a residential care home
- From £40,000 per year if nursing is required
In comparison care provided by a live-in carer at home costs between £30,000 – £40,000 a year (£600-£1000 per week) but routinely provides far better care outcomes.
Unlike healthcare, social care is not free at the point of delivery. Care is means tested and depends on your loved one’s savings and capital. Your local authority is obliged to carry out a Needs Assessment to identify the care needs of your loved one. They will also ask about their financial situation and any income they receive. In the UK, 57% of elderly people contribute towards their care.
The thresholds are:
- Less than £14,000 – your local authority pays for care
- Between £14,000 and £23,350 – you must contribute
- Over £23,350 you must pay in full
The value of your loved one’s home is only included if they move into residential care and no one else lives in it when they move. The value of the property will then be taken into account and can be used to pay for care home fees.
Local authorities are also obliged to provide an up-to-date list of local providers and can signpost to services. You will always be offered information and advice to help you understand the social care system, regardless of whether or not you are eligible for services.
Where do I find Live-in Care?
Once you have decided that live in care is the right option for your loved one you need to find the right carer. There are different routes to recruit a carer and the agency such provide pre-checked carers for you to make a choice from. The three main options are:
- Traditional care agencies
- Introductory agencies
- Individual employer
If you employ a carer directly as an ‘individual employer’ there are additional responsibilities to consider. As an individual employer, it’s important that you have employer’s liability insurance and where necessary are registered with the HMRC. Carers may be self-employed and work for multiple clients.
Choosing the right carer
Choosing the right live-in carer to work with your loved one may take considerable time and energy but it’s an important process that must be done. Interviewing them by phone and then in person to find out if they are a good fit can be a good way of assessing their suitability. Once you have identified one or two good candidates, hire them to do a couple of small tasks with your loved one – such as taking them shopping or to an appointment. This allows you to see how they work with your parents.
It’s essential that you make the decision together with your loved one. But don’t forget, it’s also important that the family gets on with the carer – you will be managing them and you need someone with whom you can have open and frank discussions about your loved one’s care.
It’s also essential to find a carer with whom your loved one gets on well. Their carer will be working them for long periods of time so it’s essential that they are a good match and have the right qualities for this. Their carer should be patient, empathetic, and passionate about the job, but also someone who has a personality that complements that of your loved one. Shared interests are also important when trying to find the best match. The better the fit, the better your loved one’s care experience will be.
A live-in carer should also demonstrate the following:
- Provide support and gentle companionship
- Respect your loved one’s dignity, privacy, and choice
- Encourage and help your loved one to do as much for themselves as possible, for as long as they wish
- Enjoy spending time with your loved one
About The Author:
Guest author, Adam Pike, is the Founder of SuperCarers. SuperCarers helps families in the UK find the best care professionals in their local area, as well as providing the tools needed to easily manage the care. Their belief is that the best care is about more than practicalities. It’s about making a real connection between people.