The increasing strain and lack of resources within the UK’s healthcare system is having a massive impact on our elderly people. Age Scotland recently found that more than four in 10 older people requiring "substantial" or critical care were found to be waiting more than the six weeks for care.
Further across the rest of the UK, one in five care home residents have been sent out of their local area, with some stranded more than 450 miles from families and friends, according to official data revealed under freedom of information (FOI) laws. In the worst cases, frail or vulnerable people are being taken from five local authority areas in London and southern England to Glasgow and northeast Scotland, because beds are unavailable at home or cheaper elsewhere. Not to mention that a recent poll by YouGov revealed that out of 2,000 people surveyed, only 1 percent were happy with the idea of going into a care home anyway.
Most people assume that a care home is where they will ultimately end up, but in fact there are a wide variety of alternatives when it comes to care for the elderly:
Home care can be provided by local authorities or by private companies and can be tailored to the individual’s needs. Private care offers far more choice than other options of home care, and hours can be increased as the elderly person’s needs become greater.
When faced with illness or immobility, it can be a struggle to carry out the everyday activities that you may have once performed with ease. There is no place quite like your own home, and that is why discreet personal care services can be designed to support you with your day-to-day living, as well as providing you with the encouragement and emotional support that you may need to remain living independently. Personal home care services can assist you with personal hygiene needs, administering medication at a time to suit your convenience.
An increasingly popular form of elderly care is to employ a live-in carer. Private live-in care is the perfect solution when a loved one wants to stay in his or her own home but needs 24/7 care.
Live-in care services are most suited to those who need someone to be with them during the day and night, whilst maintaining a high level of independence within the comfort of their own homes. Live-in care can be offered as a respite or short-term care solution ad can offer an extra set of hands around the house, assist you with gardening or cooking, help you with personal tasks like bathing and dressing and drive you to appointments, social engagements and more.
Live-in care can also cover complex care, which is one-to-one care specifically tailored for those affected by complex health conditions which require nursing care. Those affected by complex conditions will often rely on specialist equipment such as ventilators, colostomy bags, PEG feeding tubes and lift mobility. A one-to-one service can enable those in need to remain in their own homes with the greatest possible degree of independence.
Move in with family
Living between two households is a growing, popular choice for elderly people in need of care, although usually it is the older person who moves in with grown-up children and their families. Depending on the family, this can be a good option, but obviously it’s not for everyone.
If you decide to go down this route, you need to have very clear guidelines about private space, mealtimes, how bills are split and house rules. It is likely that at some point the grown-up child will become the caregiver, so it’s important that all parties are comfortable with this situation.
With sheltered housing the elderly person either buys or rents a small apartment in a dedicated block, which is overseen by a warden who usually lives on site. Residents are equipped with personal alarms so that they can notify the warden if they are ill or have an accident. This set up allows independent living but with the advantage of knowing that someone is available if necessary, and there is usually a communal lounge or garden so that residents can socialise.
Developments exclusively for retired people are a popular option as many elderly people decide to downsize from their larger homes. Retirement villages are specifically designed for older people and are usually sited close to town centres or within easy reach of shops. Apartments can be bought or rented and there are communal areas where residents can gather to socialise or have their meals.
Home sharing involves the elderly person offering a room within their house for a live-in carer, although actual care work is generally basic, such as a little gardening, shopping or cleaning. The carer benefits from either free housing or nominal rent, whilst the elderly person receives companionship and some help around the house.
Some charities organise volunteer support for elderly people in their own homes. The volunteers will visit the elderly person for a friendly chat and a little help with shopping trips or excursions. This can be a valuable way of providing companionship and relieving boredom, but volunteers will not normally assist with personal care and the help that they provide is fairly limited.