Arranging care at home for an elderly relative

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When most of us think about someone who needs round the clock care, we probably imagine a care home. But an increasing number of elderly people are having care in their own home. What’s involved in arranging care at home for an elderly relative?

Arranging care at home for an elderly relative

Care at home isn’t necessarily cheaper than going into a care home, but it may be a better option for some people. Not everyone settles down in a care home. If you want to arrange care for a relative in their own home you can:

1. Pay someone to come in by the hour. This can be arranged directly with the care provider or you can get this arranged via your local authority. If you do this, it that doesn’t necessarily mean the local authority will pay for it.

SAVVY TIP: You can only get care at home arranged through the local authority if you (or a relative) has asked for an assessment of your needs. The care you may be able to receive can include having someone to prepare meals and supervise or help with eating or someone to help you get up and wash in the morning etc.

2. Employ a live-in carer. This means that your carer will be available for the main part of the day and can provide a personal service in your own home. Normally care providers will organise a rota of carers, but the better providers will make sure the number of carers is limited.

The costs of care at home

Care by the hour
The cost of employing a carer for a few hours will vary, depending on a range of factors such as:

1. Where your relative lives

  • 2. The kind of care they need; some companies provide specialist dementia or Parkinsons care that has been developed with leading charities.

SAVVY TIP: Care at home doesn’t just have to be about the ‘basics’, such as making sure your relative is fed, washed and dressed. Many care at home providers also offer help with reading or watching DVDs, doing hobbies, buying papers, reminiscing and/or taking your relative to see neighbours or going on trips.

3. How many carers are used; some companies guarantee that a small team will be used, others use carers from a larger team.

4. Whether the carers are directly employed by a company or work on an agency basis. Some care at home providers act as an agency, while others employ staff directly which will cost more.

SAVVY TIP: Always get quotes from at least two or three different companies. You’ll probably have to pay a minimum of around £8.00 an hour but prices could be considerably higher, especially if you use an agency.

Live-in care

The cost of live-in care could be similar to the cost of a place in a care home. That might seem odd when your relative would still have to pay for their heating and food etc, but a care home might have one staff member to every five residents.

A live-in carer should be available round the clock. Companies may offer for the live-in carer to be available for up to 12 hours a day – with a break at a convenient time. The break may be two hours, for example, which could coincide with a family member’s visit or a time when your relative has an afternoon nap. Or the carer may be available 24 hours a day, but take a week off every few weeks.

SAVVY TIP: If you’re using a live-in carer it’s important that they ‘gel’ with your relative. It can make a huge difference to the happiness of your relative. Some companies take more care about this than others. Don’t be afraid to ask how they select the carer and what happens if your relative doesn’t get on with them.

Finding a care at home provider

When you’re looking for someone to provide care in your relative’s home, make sure you:

  • Check the care at home provider’s Care Quality Commission rating. All care at home providers have to be registered with the Care Quality Commission and they are regularly inspected.
  • Contact the UK Homecare Association. It’s an organisation that represents care at home providers. You can search for a provider that is based near your relative that’s a member of the Association.

SAVVY TIP: You can also download its Choosing Care at Home guide, free of charge. You can also download a free care fees planning handbook, which includes information about care at home, from Symponia.

Related articles:

What are deferred payment agreements if you need to pay for your long term care?

Finding a care home for someone with dementia – where to start

Section 117 Aftercare – when your care may be paid for if you’re sectioned

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