Finding Home Care For Elderly Parents In Their Own Home
This article is written in partnership with My Care My Home
If you’re reading this article, then it’s likely you’re considering choosing home care for your loved one. You’re not alone – at last count, 350,000 older adults were receiving care at home*. But how do you go about finding home care for elderly parents in their own home? And how exactly will it help your mum and dad (and you)?
The more we know about care options, the better equipped we are to make an educated decision to help the people we love (believe us, we’ve been there). So we’ve teamed up with home care experts My Care My Home who can help you find quality care nationally, to understand more.
What Is Home Care?
If your parent wants to stay living at home but needs a little more help and support to allow this to happen, then home care (also known as domiciliary care) could very well be for them.
The most popular type of elderly care in the UK, it’s when carers come into the home to help your mum or dad with the daily living tasks they’re finding difficult (such as showering or making meals) at designated times of the day. The beauty of home care is that it’s tailored to what your parent needs, and can help them stay independent for as long as possible.
In home care services are cheaper than moving into a care home or having a live-in carer – and for some can even be free, or subsidised by the local authority (more on this below).
Signs That Your Parent Might Need Help At Home
Caring for elderly parents in their home could be something you’ve been thinking about for a while, or maybe since being reunited post lockdown you’ve noticed they aren’t quite as able as before. Whatever the reason, some warning signs that your loved one could need more help at home are:
- They’re relying on you more. This is a tricky one – you’re family, and of course you want to help (which you’re doing just by reading this article). But it’s not always possible for a family carer to provide as much support as our parents need as they get older. Home care could mean that you’re able to keep all the plates in your life spinning, and ensure your parent gets the right support they need, when they need it. There’s no shame in getting a carer for your mum or dad.
- They need help with personal care. Some parents (or adult children) don’t want their family to help them with intimate matters like bathing. If your mum finds getting in and out of the bath difficult, or your dad struggles to get dressed, then a paid elderly home carer could make this routine safer and easier for all involved.
- They’re not looking after themselves: Maybe the house is in need of a clean, there’s food well past its sell-by date in the fridge or they’re not taking medication. These signs could help you realise that more support is needed.
- Mobility is becoming a problem: Everyday actions, like getting in and out of bed or even standing up to cook can get harder as we age. Hourly carers can be worth their weight in gold here for example coming to the house in the morning and evening to help your parent go to and get up from bed, or helping them with mealtime.
- You’re concerned about their memory: Two thirds of people living with dementia are able to stay at home, thanks to home care support (home care providers can offer specialist care for dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke recovery, palliative care and more). If you have reason to think your parent could be suffering from memory loss, then explore this with them and their GP, and at the same time speak with a home care company to understand how they can make daily life easier.
What Does A Home Carer Do?
A home carer can help your parent with all of the above and more, such as local transport, running errands and companionship.
Your home care provider should try and match you with one or a few designated carers (depending on how much care your parent needs, and to cover for illness and holiday).
Your parent will be given a schedule (likely weekly) outlining which carer they will have when, so they feel in control of the situation. This also gives you the chance to be at your parent’s home to meet any new carers if you want to.
The carer will either ring the door, or if your parent has limited mobility it’s an idea to have a key safe for them to access.
How To Arrange Home Care For Elderly Parents
There’s two routes for arranging home care – via the local authority or with a private company (like My Care My Home). Whilst home care isn’t free (unless your parent has assets of less than £23,250), everyone is entitled to a care needs assessment from their local authority if they’re struggling with everyday tasks, to highlight recommended next steps.
However the wait time for these assessments can be long, and so it can make sense for anyone self-funding their care to go direct to a private home care specialist.
Any home care provider will complete their own care plan with a new client. Family can (and ideally should) be present for this fact-finding mission, which will uncover what the care needs are, what the at home care they can provide will look like and how many hours per week or day a dom carer will visit your parent at home.
Once a care company has this level of detail, they can arrange for a carer to be with your parent within a few days.
Finding Home Care
Where do you start with finding elderly home care? You’re looking for your parents so you obviously want quality, and it’s often during a crisis. The more support you can get the better.
Ask friends and family for recommendations, and then do your due diligence and see how the care provider is rated by the relevant care regulator. This is the Care Quality Commission in England, in Wales it’s the Care Inspectorate Wales and Scotland has its own Care Inspectorate.
Making the right home care decision can be overwhelming and sometimes, external support is just what you need – especially if you don’t live close to your parents.
As well as offering home care themselves in certain regions, My Care My Home offers a national service that shortlists care providers. They listen to what your family’s looking for and narrow down your care options with their impartial, honest response to help you find the right vetted, honest carers.
Another option you might have heard of is private home care. Whilst hiring a private home carer gives you continuity with the same person helping your parent, there’s a number of drawbacks.
The onus here is on you to find the carer, based on what your parent needs (they may not do their own care assessment so it could be worth going the local authority route for this first). It will also be up to you to check all their references and credentials, and if they get sick or go on holiday you won’t automatically have any back-up.
We Spoke With My Care My Home’s ‘Director Of Care’ To Find Out More
Paying For Care At Home
So how much does home care cost? Well, home care is charged by the hour. As a rule of thumb, it costs between £20 – £30 per hour, and this fluctuates depending on where you are in the country (note, it is sometimes possible to get care by the half hour).
When you consider that older adults often need more than one hour of care per day, it can really add up. It may be when you start with home care that only one daily care visit is needed, but then their needs change and you’re suddenly finding that home care costs escalate. Or maybe you’re paying for home care for both parents – but they need different carers, at different times.
If this is the case, make sure you have a good understanding of the care plan and what your parents need. They may actually be financially better off paying for a live-in carer (if they have the space at home and want to keep living there).
Questions To Ask Home Care Providers
You and your parents have decided on domiciliary care, and you’ve found the company you want to work with. But what should you be asking them? Here are our top questions to get the answers to.
- How many different carers should we expect in a week?
- Do you interview your carers, have written references and a DBS check from them?
- What qualifications do they have?
- Is there a contract and price list?
- What will happen if the scheduled carer is off sick?
- Is there a way for me to access written care updates about my parent? Do you use a tech platform for real-time updates?
- How often will timesheets be submitted for me to sign?
- What happens if my parent is incompatible with one of their carers?
- What happens in the event of a medical emergency?
- Is care provided on the weekend and bank holidays (and is it more expensive)?
- Who should we contact outside of office hours?
- What insurance do you have in place (damage to property, a carer mistake, carer accident in the home)?
- How often is payment required?
What The Care Agency Should Ask You
Getting care is a two-way street, and any reputable dom care provider should also ask you the following questions. These are in addition to understanding your parent’s care needs:
- Your parent’s preferred method of communicating
- Any equipment or aids they currently use
- Dietary requirements and preferences
- Religious and cultural needs
- Who your parent’s power of attorney is
- Getting access to the house
Other Ways To Make Life Easier For Your Parent
You’ve noticed that daily life is getting harder, and so you’ve worked together to organise elderly care at home. Did you know there are other things you can do to help make life easier?
- Mobility aids for the elderly: From simple daily living aids (like a sock aid) to rollators which help your parent more easily move from A to B, elderly aids can improve quality of life. They can also potentially cut down on the time needed with a carer (for example, adaptive clothing could mean your parent can get dressed easily solo).
- Home adaptations: You know mum and dad want to stay at home – but is it set up for their needs? Maybe rails could help to make the stairs safer. Are there any falls hazards to look for? It could be worth speaking with an occupational therapist to fully future proof the house.
- Show them you’re there for them: Getting older can be scary – life as you know it is changing, sometimes beyond your control. Let your parent know you’re there. Express your concern but more than anything, listen to what they’re saying. You can gain a lot from this.
When your parent suddenly needs home care, it can be overwhelming to balance finding the right support during this emotional time. Finding an expert care provider that you trust is key here. My Care My Home can support you wherever you are in the country – whether you’re looking just for free advice, a local shortlist of care providers or actual in home care. Thanks for dropping by, we hope you’ve found this article on finding home care for elderly parents in their own home useful.
Learn more about My Care My Home and how they could help your family at www.mycaremyhome.co.uk.
*The Kings Fund