As a general rule, older people often prefer to stay at home for as long as physically possible. In many cases this can be organised with home adaptations, such as rails, ramps, stairlifts, wet rooms and personal alarms, along with some help from a carer.
Carers help with all sorts of needs from personal to domestic. Their support can be arranged from short, daily or weekly home visits to 24 hour live-in care, whatever is needed and can be afforded.
The great benefit of care at home is that friends and neighbours are close by and surroundings are comfortingly familiar. The disadvantage is that home can sometimes be lonely and takes some managing. Care at home, particularly 24 hour care, can also be expensive.
If staying in your own home seems impractical but you would like to retain some independence, you could consider sheltered or retirement housing. These housing schemes are usually made up of a complex of self contained flats or bungalows with a scheme manager and communal areas such as a shared lounge, laundry and garden.
Advantages are clear; you can retain your independence whilst feeling more secure. However, do beware that service charges are usually applicable and medical, personal and domestic care are not usually provided.
If sheltered housing sounds appealing, but more care is needed, extra care housing or assisted living could be an option. These forms of very sheltered housing support independence by offering various services; these may include meal provision, domestic support and personal care. Extra care housing is generally available for rent following a joint assessment by both Social Services and Housing, whereas assisted living is usually available for purchase or rent privately. Unfortunately, these schemes are not in plentiful supply throughout the country.
Close care provides an alternative to extra care housing. Once again, the single biggest benefit is that residents are able to retain their independence with their own front door. This type of very sheltered housing is found within the grounds of a care home, so care and communal facilities may be available if required. Again, the downside is that close care is not widely available. Bear in mind also that the properties can be small and, frustratingly, the care offered by the home may not necessarily match your care needs.
Care homes have come in for some bad press recently but, naturally, it’s only the small minority of poor homes that are newsworthy; there are many excellent homes out there. Care homes fall under different descriptions depending on the type of care they provide. There are care homes (previously known as residential homes), care homes with nursing (previously known as nursing homes) and dual registered homes, which can provide both residential and nursing care. Some of these homes will cater for people with specific needs such as those seen in residents with dementia or physical disability.
Clearly it is vital to identify the homes that are most suited to your personal needs. The benefits can be numerous; they provide social stimulation, a safe environment with 24 hour assistance available and no worries about preparing meals or managing a house. The good ones can really make you feel that you are living in your own house. Sadly, some loss of independence is inevitable and rooms can be small, meaning that only a few personal possessions can be accommodated.
For everyone in need of care, local authority assessments are available, regardless of financial situation, and are a useful start point for guidance and advice. However, we do understand that making the right choice can be difficult. For over 30 years, we have specialised in providing independent care advice, helping families with expert advice about choice of care.