Care after COVID: Is the future of care closer to home?

As we age, it can be common for some kind of care to be required in order to live a happy healthy life, whether it’s mobility or cognitive challenges that trigger this. The coronavirus pandemic has drawn a great deal of attention to the care sector and has brought about numerous questions for the future of care for the elderly.

Whilst the journey to selecting care can sometimes be lengthy, with many changes in needs and preferences along the way, there are a few stand out considerations which must be made. Namely, where our loved ones will receive care, and whether the environment provides the care needs they require.

Care Alternatives

For many, moving into a care home may be seen as the only choice where 24-hour care can be provided. However, there are other care options which should be considered. The pandemic has brought to light the alternatives to care homes and the way we traditionally consider the care sector.

A recent study conducted by IPPR has found that 31% of people [i] are now less likely to consider residential care for an elderly relative in the wake of Covid-19, and this is backed up by the increase in demand for other care services.

Throughout the pandemic, live-in care agency, Elder, have seen a staggering new customer growth of 43% increase YOY since lockdown began, which has been equivalent to an average sized care home moving to live-in care every 12 days – but what is live-in care and is it an affordable alternative to other care options?

Live-in care, the basics

Live-in care ensures that the individual is receiving the level of care they need, whilst remaining independent within their own home. A dedicated carer moves into the home and will help to assist with daily tasks such as personal hygiene, cooking and cleaning, along with helping the person to retain their hobbies and lifestyle.

 Affordability

It can often be a misconception that one-to-one at home care can be unaffordable and costly, however this is not the case. Costs can vary depending on the area of the country, and the provider, however it can actually be a cost-effective alternative in comparison to other options. 

There are also a variety of funding opportunities available which can help those receiving or providing care, from local authorities, the NHS or from other financial benefits, so it’s important to do your research.

Pete Dowds, CEO at Elder had to say: “The Covid-19 pandemic has brought a spotlight to the care industry, it’s funding and safety – and it’s vital that those with loved ones needing care are clear on the variety of options available to them.

Doing research and speaking to experts can help you choose the right care option for your loved one, whether that's staying at home, or choosing to move into a care facility. The heart of what we do is ensuring that individuals receiving care are as safe and secure as possible, leading positive lives, with a high quality of living, whilst receiving the care they need.”

Lifestyle   

One of the most advantageous aspects of live-in care is that it can allow an individual to remain independent and continue with their lifestyle, within their own home. Marcus Brooks, General Manager at Brighton & Hove City Council had to say, “having live-in care as an option for us has meant that we can keep people where they’re happiest for longer”.

Staying within a familiar environment can be particularly comforting for those with dementia, or perhaps those who have lived there for a long time. Continuing with familiar hobbies, chores, and daily activities within the home, with the help from a carer where required can be hugely beneficial, and especially so during a time of social distancing and shielding for the most vulnerable.

Joanne Brown whose mother currently has a live-in carer[ii], said “there are so many things about staying at home, what it let's mum do. Mum doesn’t remember how to do everything, but it makes her happy to be involved. If mum had gone into a care home, I don’t think she would be here now. But she is happy and has a lovely life.”.

The Future

 As there is currently no definitive end in sight for the waves of Coronavirus, there is an expected fall in care home occupancy rates from 87% to 79% by April 2021, and with that in mind it’s important that discussions around alternate care options continue.

Some pioneering local authorities in the UK are already looking at live-in care as a realistic alternative to the care home. Claire Rowland, Adult Health & Social Care Commissioner at Brighton & Hove City Council had to say “COVID-19 led to a reappraisal of care delivery, and the need for a full-time care solution at home. While costs had previously been assumed to be prohibitive, changes to funding available due to the pandemic allowed the council to pilot this service.”

Elder are currently in advanced talks with councils across the country to build awareness around how live-in care can support individuals, their families, and the local authorities.

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