Residential care is too often considered the default option when considering how to manage increasing elderly care needs for a relative. I was particularly struck by a comment made at a recent social gathering : “Sadly, Mum has reached the stage where she needs help – so we’re looking at what homes are available.” It was clear that there was little awareness that elderly care alternatives were available.
The story was a familiar one. Following a fall, the lady in question’s confidence had diminished, and the demands on her family were steadily increasing. The family members already had very busy, stressful lives and many commitments – and were finding it harder and harder to cope. This is a common issue because, as relatives grow older, the frequency of visits, the number of helping activities and the time that they take, all grow inexorably. It can become a significant burden, which requires action.
The permanence of residential care
Residential care is a well established solution and may be entirely right on occasion – but it comes at a huge emotional, as well as financial, cost. It is usually an uncomfortable choice for all concerned, because it has a “permanence” which is very difficult to reverse. Such decisions often carry guilt, because it is so easy to understand that the wrench of leaving familiar surroundings – especially if it is for good – can be terribly distressing. It isn’t only places and things that must left behind, but memories of good times, lost partners, and the loss of many personal routines. Small wonder that resistance can be high on the part of the individual concerned, who fear (with some justification) that their independence will be compromised.
A more natural transition
In contrast, taking some professional homecare to take over some of the most onerous or regular daily care tasks can seem a natural transition, because it can start at one level and evolve over time. Homecare supports an individual’s choice and ability to live their own lives in their own home, assuring an ongoing independent, safe and healthy life for the duration of their choosing. There can still be some concern or even resistance on the part of the elderly individual, but the ability for home carers to focus are around the choices of the customer makes this less distressing and it is far easier to allay concerns.
Tailored to actual need
The benefits of continued living at home go well beyond the practical. Home elderly care is very scalable to the individual need – some of our customers require a very few hours of help each week, whereas others require multiple visits each day, unlike the ‘all or nothing’ decision of a move into residential care. It can be focused on the specific tasks which the person finds most difficult, yet preserve their choice to handle other aspects of life as they choose.
Home care is not only about carrying out care tasks – a good home care firm supports and sustains general wellbeing and happiness, because it focuses on building relationships too.
In our work, delivering elderly home care in Maidenhead and Ascot, we get tremendous positive feedback from customers because the care we give is truly personal. Customers get to know a small, steady team of familiar faces who deliver one-to-one care which is not generalised, and which takes their own wishes and needs into account in a way which the many-to-many nature of care in a residential home simply cannot. We are used to helping people regain their confidence as we firmly believe that care is something we do with our customers and not do to them!
It is not surprising that we are always strong supporters of home care itself but, above all, we believe that people should have choice – and be able to make the appropriate choice at the right time. The lady who inspired the discussion was neither local nor a potential customer, but I truly hope that she is enabled to enjoy the comfort and familiarity of her own home for as long as she wishes. She has every right to have meals at times that suit her, have a personal say in the care she receives, and to enjoy a continuing feeling of independence. If, in future, she goes into residential care, it should be a time of her choosing and when it is the right direction – not the only option that is considered.