help with deciding what’s next
It can feel like a minefield deciding how and where you are going to live in the future and the vast majority of us put it off until it’s taken out of our hands. Over the years we’ve worked with many people and can clearly see the benefits of being in the driving seat and managing change before it manages you.
If you’ve decided you want to stay in your current home it might be worth thinking about making some adjustments to your property. Some quite small aids and adaptations could make your home much easier to live in. Simple things like long-handled shoehorns and grabbers can make dressing much quicker. Raisers can make beds and chairs much easier to get in and out of. Kettle tippers can be the difference between making a cup of tea and not bothering. Grab rails are great for getting in and out of the front door. Other adaptations might be more grand-scale, like having a ramp installed or re-siting a shower and toilet downstairs. Age UK has a great website with information on adapting your home and it’s worth popping into your local mobility centre as they stock a range of equipment and are usually a good source of advice too. We don’t like to dwell on safety too much but door intercom systems, secure locks, security lights, burglar alarms, carelink alarms, fire and smoke detectors all help give peace of mind if you are living independently. In Brighton & Hove (and it’s worth checking with other councils) there is a scheme to help people who need to make adaptations to their home. The maximum funding available is £5000 and it is not means tested. If it would help you to have, for example, a stair lift or a level access shower in the bathroom this scheme could really help you. You will need to have a referral made from an Occupational Therapist (OT) so do make an OT appointment via your GP practice. For more information about the adaptations scheme contact the Housing Adaptations Service at Hove Town Hall on 01273 292443 or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have you heard of Homeshare? It’s a system of matching young people seeking a place to live with older people who have a spare room and who need a helping hand at home. This works well where the needs of the home-owner are relatively low. Homeshare has been operating in various places around the world and there are a limited number of schemes in the UK but the feeling is that it has the potential to be a much more widespread solution.
If you feel you need a significant amount of care and want to remain in your own home then having live-in care is another option. You can employ your own live-in carer directly or use an organisation such as Home & Company to help you find and employ someone. You will need to have a property with a spare bedroom for the carer. Live-in care doesn’t have to be permanent. It can also be a great way to provide intensive care in the short term following illness or discharge from hospital. Funding live-in care can be a concern for people. There are financial advisors who are specially accredited to work with older people through the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) and can help with equity release and other appropriate schemes. Look up your local SOLLA advisor at www.societyoflaterlifeadvisers.co.uk or call 0333 2020 454.
case study – arranging live-in care to make staying in your home possible
Mr & Mrs D were suddenly plunged into crisis. Mrs D, carer for her husband in his 90’s, broke her hip and was whisked into hospital. The paramedics were aware that Mr D couldn’t be left and so he went along for the ride, but by the following day the hospital were trying to find somewhere for him to stay whilst Mrs D recovered. Their son asked Home & Company to find a live-in carer at short notice to prevent Mr D being placed in a care home, knowing that Mrs D would be back home within a number of weeks. By the following day a very experienced live-in carer was put in place for an initial four weeks. Three months on with Mrs D back at home the family made the live-in position permanent as a way of Mr & Mrs D remaining in their own home. It’s worth noting that the house is a good size so everyone can have their own space!
Staying at home is not the answer for everyone though. The responsibilities of running a home can become a burden, and the idea of having a live-in carer in your home can also seem uncomfortable and rather intense for some. For many people, moving out of the family home to sheltered housing is the obvious choice. It means you’ve still got a key to your own front door if that is important to you. Most sheltered housing accommodation is for people over the age of 55 and includes telecare equipment in the rooms in case of needing help, a communal area where activities take place, and a manager or warden who oversees the property. Over the past few years though many sheltered housing schemes have put less emphasis on the warden role so you need to ask in each property if the warden is situated permanently on site and what you can expect of them. Extra sheltered housing schemes mean you can still purchase your own accommodation, but with the option to buy in care services on site as you need them and sign up for meals in the communal restaurant. Retirement villages offer a similar level of support, and often have attractive health and leisure facilities too, but they can be set in out of town locations so think carefully about whether that would suit you and how you would get out and about.
You may feel that you no longer want to be responsible for a property and that you would enjoy the company of other people, in which case a care home is a great option. It means that all the domestic chores such as cooking, cleaning and laundry are done for you, and you are safe in the knowledge that staff are available day and night. You might feel nowhere near this stage, but it doesn’t hurt to have a look at a range of care homes so that you know your preference if that time comes. It’s not a bad idea to turn up unannounced and ask for a brief show round. The staff may not be able to devote much time to you but it will give you a feel for how things really are, warts and all. If you like it you can make an appointment for a longer visit another time, and have a meal there, the food is so important! Many homes don’t have very high staff ratios which means it’s tricky helping people get out and about. Do ask if they are able to take you for walks, shopping etc. Some homes are able to offer short term stays so you can go for a week or two as a trial run. It’s a good idea to read the home’s latest inspection reports available from the Care Quality Commission at www.cqc.org.uk.
case study – making the move to a care home
Mrs O is in her mid-nineties and says of herself that her mind is perfect but her body is giving up! She had lived independently in her three bedroom house for over twenty years since she was widowed. Although she had mobility problems she was still able to drive short distances, managing to get out and take part in her usual activities, but was beginning to feel more and more lonely and anxious when she got back to the house. She was having home help from Home & Company three times a week but often calling to ask for an extra evening visit as the prospect of the nights alone began to really worry her. She had spent six weeks in a great local care home following an illness previously, and with the support of her family, booked in for another two week stay to test out whether it was really time for her to make the move. She enjoyed her two week stay but was determined to return home. Only a few days later with her anxiety beginning to take hold again she agreed with some reluctance that it was now time to move to the care home. A few weeks on she moved some of her favourite furniture and ornaments into her room and began the process of making it her new home. Her anxiety diminished dramatically and although it took time to feel completed settled she knew it was the right move for her.
Whatever decisions you make it’s really important to feel you are in the driving seat. They key is not to wait until you hit a crisis before you put some help in place, as at that point decisions might be made for you. We have a great network of live-in carers and can recruit bespoke carers if that would suit you best. We have helped several clients with choosing the right care home. There are many sources of advice and support but it can feel like a minefield. It’s worth asking your local Age UK office. Home & Company is also very happy to help with advice and signposting so do give us a call.