Most people want to stay in their own homes for as long as they can when they reach their elderly years. The threat of a care home is often terrifying to many, and a source of great guilt to concerned relatives who feel that they have no other choice.
Yet when 97% of people tell a 2014 poll that they definitely DO NOT want to move into a care home if they become less able to cope or ill in their twilight years, there should surely be another way forward.[i]
Live-in care is that alternative choice. While it will not suit everyone – and some people will need the additional structured care that a good residential care home can offer – it could potentially transform the lives of many others.
Advantages of Live-In Care
The main advantage of having a live-in carer is the dedicated one-to-one care that your loved one will receive. Many care workers are trained to deal with certain conditions, such as dementia, stroke, MS or Parkinson’s, but live-in care isn’t just about age or health issues; it’s about caring for the whole person.
The carer will really get to know your relative, understanding their preferences and routines. The small things can mean a lot. For someone with dementia, for instance, having someone who knows how they like their tea can make their life much easier. A live-in carer can also manage evolving care needs.
Staying In Their Own Home
Most elderly people prefer to stay in their own home, surrounded by their possessions and memories, and in a familiar setting. This is particularly true for people with dementia who find change distressing. A live-in carer can give them the opportunity to continue living in their home for longer, with friends and neighbours nearby.
Peace of Mind
This is one for both of you. You will both appreciate the peace of mind that comes from knowing someone is available to help, night and day, if there is an emergency. A live-in carer can also become a valued companion, reducing the risk of your loved one feeling isolated.
Most residential and nursing homes do not allow pets, yet an elderly person’s relationship with their pet can run deep and they can be heart breaking to say goodbye to. One responsibility of a live-in carer is usually to look after, feed and exercise, a house trained docile pet.
The elderly are the most at-risk group for falls, due to frailty, advanced age and medical conditions, with six people over 65 falling or suffering a fall-related injury EVERY MINUTE. [i]
It’s hard to picture the consequences of a simple fall when you’re young and healthy, but to the elderly falls can be extremely serious. A month after suffering a hip fracture, for instance, one in 10 people will die, rising to 30% mortality rate within a year. [ii]
Research from the Live-In Care Hub shows people who enjoy live-in care at home suffer nearly a THIRD less falls than their care and nursing home counterparts, and a QUARTER less hip fractures.
A lot of falls occur when the elderly person is disoriented and/ or gets out of bed at night to use the toilet. Having a live-in carer on hand, day and night, helps to prevent potential incidents. At the very least, having live-in care means your loved one can be rehabilitated at home which is far less traumatic for them; a long hospital stay is also associated with an increase in mortality rates. [iii]
Quality of Life
Perhaps the main benefit of live-in care is independence and dignity, with none of the restrictions associated with institutionalised care. When we get older and weaker, it’s the little things that start to mean a lot, such as the quality of food and drink we enjoy.
The Live-In-Care Hub’s new quality of life study, for instance, finds that:
- 81% of live-in clients questioned say they get all the food and drink they like when they want, compared to 66% in residential care and just 52% of people in nursing homes.
- 99% of people with live-in care said they still get to do at least some of the things they value and enjoy, despite sickness and frailty. Compare that to 11.6% of people in nursing homes who say they NEVER do anything they enjoy with their time.
- 15% of people in nursing homes complain that they have no control over their daily lives. The same goes for 4.6% of people in residential care, and just 3% of live-in care clients.
Despite having many of the same frailties and disabilities as those in care homes, live-in clients manage to get out and about significantly more. Nearly 40% (37%) of people in residential or nursing homes NEVER LEAVE the home, compared to just 21% of people with a live-in carer. [iv]
Other advantages of a live-in carer can include:
- Less pressure on you and other relatives: You don’t have to become your loved one’s carer, but can instead maintain your relationship as part of the family.
- More freedom: If your relative can still travel, a live-in carer may be able to go with them abroad, enabling them to keep travelling for longer.
- Hiring a live-in carer can be significantly cheaper than residential homes for couples, and allows them to stay together. If your father has dementia, for instance, he and your mother may be separated in residential care.
Disadvantages of Live-In Care
Finding the Right Person
As the name suggests, a live-in carer is going to be spending a lot of time with your loved one. As well as personality matches, you will want to find the right carer or care team who is properly trained and can deal sympathetically with your relatives’ needs. This can be a big task, especially if your loved one has demanding or complex medical needs. The good news is that a good care agency will usually source carers with appropriate experience and training.
Live-In Care May Not Be Right for Your Loved One
Live-in care may not be the right choice for everyone. If your elderly father has severe health or care needs, for instance, he may need to live in a dedicated establishment that can specifically cater to his needs.
Someone Else Living in Their Home
Not everyone is comfortable with having a stranger live in their home. Someone else will be using their kitchen, bathroom and living space, for instance, and your loved one may feel that they never have any privacy. Couples too may find it intrusive to have someone else in their space.
Missing the Benefits of a Residential Home
While a great many people swear they never want to enter a residential home, such homes can offer a wider social world, allowing your loved one to be in constant contact with others. Of course, a live-in care worker can become a valued companion too and will help your loved one socialise where possible.
Care Worker Needs
A live-in carer will live with your loved one full-time but will still need holidays and breaks away to spend time with their own families. If you engage the care worker via an agency or full managed service, the provider will usually organise the short-term cover needed. If you source a live-in carer privately, you will need to find a way to fill the gap. Either way, there will be a change in personnel which your relative may find jarring.
As you can imagine, having a live-in carer on call 24/7 doesn’t come cheap. Prices vary from region to region, and will be more expensive to recruit via an agency, but typical costs can be anywhere from £700 [ii]to -£1,500[iii] a week. Depending on eligibility, some live-in care fees may be paid for by the state and costs could still be lower than the price of a residential home. This is especially true for couples who would have to pay twice over for a care home.
If you decide you want to find your own live-in carer which can be cheaper, you should be aware that it comes with additional responsibilities. You will have to perform DBS checks, follow up references and work history. Once you hire someone, you or your loved one will have to pay your employee, sort out their tax and National Insurance contributions, and provide some form of pension. These additional responsibilities can be avoided if you use an agency to find the carer for you.
[i] Research conducted by One Poll, July 2014, for live-in care providers Consultus Care
[ii] Home Touch https://blog.myhometouch.com/how-much-does-24-hour-live-in-care-cost-in-2017/
[i] Live in Care Hub, Better At Home Report http://www.liveincarehub.co.uk/better-at-home/
[iv] Live in Care Hub, Better At Home Report http://www.liveincarehub.co.uk/better-at-home/