Should My Parents Have 24-Hour Live In Care?
Live-in care wasn’t really a concept I’d considered until my grandpa suddenly needed more support a decade ago. He was clear that he wanted to stay living at home, so we looked into ways we could help him achieve this. 24 hour live-in care was the answer for us as a family.
Having a consistent carer who was matched not just to his physical needs but could also provide the intellectual stimulation he wanted and deserved, meant that he could happily spend his final years in a familiar space where he felt safe and calm.
Choosing care (whether hourly, residential care or live-in home care) is a complex decision. Families are collectively coming to terms with the idea that a change of some description is on the horizon along with a not insignificant cost. How do you know what the right decision is?
What Is Live-In Care?
Like the name suggests, live-in care is when an experienced and dedicated carer comes and lives in your home. It’s all about keeping your loved one healthy and happy, whilst enhancing their quality of life.
The care is completely tailored to the person receiving it. Ranging from light personal care and companionship, respite care (such as after leaving hospital or recovering from an illness) or it could be more complex care for people living with dementia, Parkinson’s, MS or with cancer.
It means that your elderly parents can stay living safely at home with as much independence, choice and dignity as possible, and you can get peace of mind that they’re being well looked after.
What Are The Benefits Of Live-In Care?
It’s no surprise that most older adults, if given the choice, would stay living at home if they could. This is a major benefit – it removes the worry and stress of moving at a time when your parent is becoming more fragile, and gives them the tailored support they need. But there’s other advantages to look at too. If you’re wondering what does a live-in carer do, then read on:
Reduces feelings of loneliness: Companionship is a real bonus of live-in home care. My grandpa was a real history buff and his carer’s knowledge was second to none. Knowing that not only your physical but your psychological and emotional needs will also be met makes inviting someone new into your house so much easier.
Oversee personal care and medication management: The professional carer is there for your parent throughout the day and night. They have the time to sort the medication and ensure they’re taking it. When it comes to personal care, they can go above and beyond the necessary washing, bathing and getting dressed. Helping your mum with her hair or giving her a manicure for example.
Home safety and fall prevention: Staying at home is one thing – but is your parent’s home set for their changing needs? The carer can identify, or liaise with an occupational therapist or physiotherapist about relevant aids to make life easier. Their presence can also reduce the risk of falling, and if a fall does occur, they’re on-site to help your parent swiftly and keep you informed.
Cleaning and cooking: Having a live-in carer can actually save your parent money. It means that they don’t need to have a separate cleaner, and if the carer is green fingered then they could also tend to the garden. They will also make sure your parent is eating well, by shopping for and cooking healthy and nutritious meals which take their likes and dislikes into account. Your mum or dad can also eat at a time to suit them – it’s less restrictive than set meal times in a care home.
Encouraging their social circle: With lockdown lifting, the carer can help your elderly parent connect back with their community. Whether that’s taking them for a stroll in the park, driving them to a local exercise group or helping them host when inviting guests over to the house.
Care for couples: Live-in care means that your mum and dad can stay together at home as a loving couple with the personalised support they need.
How Does Live-In Care Work?
The beauty of live-in care is that it’s bespoke, and is the right fit for both your parent and the carer. To make this happen, there’s a collaborative approach to care planning.
The live-in care company will carry out its comprehensive assessment with your parent (and family input as relevant). From here, a care plan will be developed in consultation with other healthcare professionals currently involved in your parent’s care. Based off this, your parent will be matched with their carer and you’ll all get ongoing support from care managers as well as 24-hour emergency support.
The care plan and the ongoing support of the carer means that your parent will be well looked after day and night. And its reviewed regularly so it’s reflective at all times of your parent’s holistic needs.
How Many Hours Does A Live-In Carer Work?
Living with another person who requires care is a tiring business. Any good provider will explain that there is an expectation of daily breaks (three hours per day usually) and also that if night calls become too frequent or lengthy, more support will be needed.
Lots of carers take these breaks when your parent is resting for example, and the care provider can always help you find someone to bridge the gap if needed.
How To Find A Live-In Carer
Organising long-term care can be a daunting prospect for both the person receiving the care, and their families. Are you making the right decision? Will your mum and dad be happy?
When finding a live-in care caregiver, you can either use an introduction agency or a fully managed service provider.
With introduction live-in care agencies, the onus is really on the family. Once the introduction to the carer has been made, you will need to manage the carer, pay them and organise holiday cover and sick leave.
So taking Covid-19 as an example, if they came into contact with someone and needed to self-isolate, you would need to find a new carer or step in yourself at short notice.
Whilst a managed and regulated service can be more expensive, they do all this for you, taking the pressure off. Your parent’s carer will be employed and managed by them, and given necessary supervision and support to provide high standards of care. All the DBS and insurance checks will be sorted (and provided to you).
Families should always feel they can work in partnership with a care provider. If there are any problems with live-in carers, then raise it with the live-in care company.
Preparing For Your Carer
Bringing someone new into the fold isn’t always going to be smooth sailing from the beginning. So how can you prepare for it? Here are our top tips to help settle in a carer.
All of the points below are designed to ensure that a professional carer remains with your parent for as long as possible. The longer they stay, the better for everyone as continuity matters.
- Their own personal space. Your professional carer will need a bedroom of their own with a comfortable bed, wardrobe and if possible a television. It’s sometimes asked if a carer could sleep on a camp bed in the client’s bedroom or in a sitting room. The answer to that is no, not if you want the person to feel respected and properly rested when having down time. Please also make sure mattresses are not just dusted off from a shed, garage or attic or have mould and bed bugs.
- Access to WiFi. Even if your parent doesn’t use WiFi, it’s a way for your carer to keep in touch with their friends and family. Make sure the carer knows where the router and code is.
- Budgeting. Agree a set amount of money weekly or monthly for food and other necessities, and work out how you want to manage this. With cash less accepted nowadays, setting up a joint bank account may be the best way to go – with the carer keeping all receipts.
- Discuss what’s on the menu. Knowing how much they have to spend on food will help the carer menu plan, and stock the freezer with wholesome home cooked dishes for emergencies. Food can be a topic of conversation between a client and professional carer and a great way of building a relationship.
- Treat them with respect. A professional carer is not a robot. They too have feelings and whilst they may well be very adept at putting on a good performance, they will feel upset if shouted at, or admonished. Just remember that the person in receipt of care can, and often will, behave differently towards their carer than they do with a family member. It can be hard to imagine, however a professional carer can often give you real insight into issues causing frustration and may well appreciate your help in finding a workable solution.
- Help them get to know the area. It’s very likely that you will know the local area far more than the carer when they first arrive. If you are able to give them some information about local bus routes, the location of shops nearby, where the GP is based and the pharmacy, all of this will help to settle them in.
- Share your contacts. As well as your own details, give them the names and contact details for local tradespeople that you’re happy for the carer to use. This way, if there is a problem requiring a plumber or an electrician, the carer can get things organised and save you the trouble. Same goes for your parent’s hairdresser, friends and other key contacts!
- Update insurance. Let the home insurance know that a carer will be living there, and update their car insurance too if you want them to drive your parent’s car.
Live-in Care Costs
For the majority of us, care comes with a cost. But live-in care may not be as much you might think. Yes, it’s a more expensive option than hourly care but it’s largely on par with a quality care home, and can sometimes be less depending on the level of care your parent needs. Plus, it can actually work out cheaper for a couple living together.
Having had personal experience of live-in home care, I can fully see its benefits. Not only do you know that your much-loved parent is well looked after from a care perspective 24/7, but it can remove much of the pressure from your shoulders as the carer also supports them emotionally. Whilst lots is known about care homes and hourly care, I truly think that live-in care is a solid option.