Before our parents reach the age of needing a carer, it’s very easy to say that we’ll be ‘happy to do it’. But it really isn’t an easy task, and complicated by emotional and love – it’s even harder.
That’s why it begins to be impossible to have the patience, and sometimes also the skills, to be able to do it all at home alone. In fact, it may be that once you have made all of the considerations, that you find that time in a day centre or a period of residential respite would be beneficial.
So how do you transition to asking for help elsewhere? How do you find the right type of care for your loved ones and how, most importantly, do you then place all of your trust in that person that it’s being done the way you want it when you’re not there?
Firstly, understand that this might make the difference between your parents being able to live independently at home or having to leave home and live somewhere completely new.
So how is home care, domiciliary care, home help and home care assistance defined? Is it what you’re looking for?
Home Care Assistance
This is simply help with physically demanding tasks at home. If they need help getting out of bed, bathing or showering, visiting the loo, cooking, taking their medication and doing the shopping.
This is just help with housekeeping; cleaning, bed making, washing up, laundry etc.
If you find the planning, organising and paperwork too much then an agency can do everything for you. It may be more expensive, but you’ll always be assured that they will be there when they say they will, that there will be cover if the carer has to go sick, and that you’ll get reports on the care or any issues when you need them.
Round-the-clock live-in care provides a far greater level of assistance; everything from palliative, to ensuring they take their medication, turning them in bed if they are at risk from bed sores, dietary support, keeping on top of the housework and walking the dog.
Private or local authority centres are available for adult day care, with some specialising in people with particular issues including Alzheimer’s. These offer activities, support and socialisation. Accompanying them on the first few visits may help your parent adapt.
This is some time where your parent would be looked after in a residential facility, or taken care of in their own home allowing you to go on holiday or catch up on life elsewhere, returning refreshed and reinvigorated. This can be particularly helpful if your parent has dementia or is recovering from an illness or operation.
Do your parents need the help?
You need to consider what assistance may be needed now – and what may be needed later and how many hours they may need. What sort of person will they be most comfortable with? A younger person, a male/female, someone friendly and approachable, someone professional that remains impersonal? The same person every time or a mix of different people.
Having the conversation with them
Most people will not be too willing to accept that they need the help in the first place, unless there has been a situation such as a fall or illness. Your parent may fiercely value their independence or worry about being a burden. It may be that you start the conversation early, long before it’s truly needed. But involving them in some way will certainly ease the shock of that new person coming into their home.
How to find someone
You can advertise locally, or even use social media to see if you can find personal recommendations. You can talk to your GP if you believe the help needed is more skill-based. There are also care agencies and it’s worth investigating who provides help in the nearby vicinity.
Do not rush into it. You’ll need to carry out all background checks, including taking up references as well as carrying out a Disclosure and Barring Service check (DBS) and immigration status. You may also need to register with HMRC as an employer, operate PAYE, pay National Insurance and statutory sick pay (SSP) and obtain employer’s liability insurance.
Don’t be afraid to say no!
Consider doing a quick trial period. If someone doesn’t feel right then don’t use them – go with your gut instinct!
How much will it cost?
The cost of a private carer is on average around £18 – £20 per hour (not through an agency) and sometimes you might be able to claim some back from the local authority Management agencies employ and train carers and oversee all aspects of care. It can suit families with other commitments, however can be more expensive and prices really do vary.