Last week we introduced you to our guest bloggers Loretta and Julie from Home and Company, where in their first blog post the explored the options available to you for care in your own home. This week Loretta and Julie talk about options for care outside the home.

On the move

Staying at home is not the answer for everyone. 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 into sheltered housing is the obvious choice. It means you’ve still got your key to your own front door, if that is what feels important to you. Most sheltered housing accommodation is for people over the age of 55 and includes carelink equipment in the rooms in case you need help, a communal area where activities take place, and a manager or warden who oversees the property. That said, over the past few years 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 have 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 that you are nowhere near needing this level of care at this stage, however 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 perhaps have a meal there, the food is so important! Many homes don’t have very high staff-to-resident 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:

Mrs O is in her mid-nineties and says of herself that her mind is perfect but her body is giving up on her! She has lived independently in her 3 bedroom house for over twenty years since she was widowed. Although she has mobility problems she is still able to drive short distances, and was 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 was 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, which she did. But only a few days later, her anxiety about being alone at night was beginning to take hold, and with a certain amount of reluctance, she agreed that it was now time to move to the care home. A few weeks on she has now moved some of her favourite furniture and ornaments into her room at the care home and is beginning the process of making it her new home. Her anxiety has diminished dramatically and although she doesn’t yet feel completely settled she knows it was the right move, albeit that it took a few goes.

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. There are many sources of advice and support but it can feel like a minefield. It’s worth asking your local Age UK office as a starting point. Home & Company is also very happy to help with advice and signposting so do feel free to give us a call.

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