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Home care: How it can help your elderly relative stay where they’re most comfortable

PUBLISHED: 12:00 23 December 2017 | UPDATED: 16:00 04 January 2018

Radfield Havering & Brentwood carer Natalea Haydon and director Jennie Bardrick paid a visit to client Connie on her birthday

Radfield Havering & Brentwood carer Natalea Haydon and director Jennie Bardrick paid a visit to client Connie on her birthday

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Lisa and Jennie are cousins who grew up in the borough. Their grandmother, ‘Nanny Fish’ was a huge part of their lives, and while she had dementia and increasing needs, she really benefited from having care in her nephew’s loving home. This experience was the inspiration for Lisa and Jennie to set-up their own home care service.

Lisa Cable and Wilfred at Radfield Havering & Brentwood's afternoon tea outing Lisa Cable and Wilfred at Radfield Havering & Brentwood's afternoon tea outing

Here they answer some popular questions you might have about home care, and explain how it can help preserve people’s independence in later life.

When should you start thinking about getting support for your relatives as they grow older?

Early intervention is really important. Families should look for signs that their elderly relative may need support - this may be changes in mood, difficulty keeping up with the household chores, or even loss of weight.

Gladys and carer at an afternoon tea Radfield Havering & Brentwood Gladys and carer at an afternoon tea Radfield Havering & Brentwood

It is important to address a care need early on, because too often something awful happens like a fall and then the family are firefighting to get an emergency care package in place. The relative may have ended up in hospital over an easily preventable situation, and a small amount of home care early on means the family have peace of mind that their relative is safe and can save money and stress in the long term.

How much care should you put in place?

It’s best to start off little and often with care so the person can get used to it and see the benefits it can bring. Some people find care a real challenge, and feel that it’s taking away their independence. If anything, home care can make the person more independent as it can ensure people stay in their own home for as long as possible.

What is the process for setting up support for your loved one?

Every individual is different, and any home care company you speak to would set up a meeting to discuss the care needs of your relative. Unless they have used a home care company before, people aren’t always sure of what services are on offer, so good home care companies will take the time to understand the client fully to create an individual care plan - this service is completely free and it is always up to the client to decide if they wish to go ahead with receiving care after the initial meeting.

What kind of support in the home could families look to put in place for their elderly relatives?

To start with early on, families could look to get support for everyday things, such as taking their relative out food shopping, to doctors appointments or supporting around the house with a bit of cleaning here and there. This could be just one hour of support per week and may really help alleviate some of the pressures of running a household.

Companionship support is also a great way to start introducing an elderly relative to care services, this could be a weekly visit for a cup of tea and a chat just to give them some company or structure to their day.

Another way that some families start putting care in place for their elderly relative is when they go away on holiday and want to ensure she or he is safe and well back home. Even if you are going away for just a couple of days, this can bring invaluable peace of mind to the family that their loved one is being looked after.

What if my family member has dementia - what is the best way to manage the care?

It is important for someone with dementia to have a structured routine. People with dementia can struggle with change, so changing their living environment can have a detrimental effect on the individual. Although their short-term memory might not be good, their long-term memory can still be okay and even vivid.

Often, the individual’s home is a familiar place to them, and they may still have the happy memories of living there. Home care providers can put in structured visits and routine’s for a dementia client and can even integrate social outings to ensure they are getting regular brain stimulation.

Equally, there are some care homes with specialist dementia centres and it really does depend on the individual’s needs as to whether in home care or a care home is the best option.

With dementia, the individual may not remember exactly what you say when you spend time with them, but they will remember how you made them feel, therefore it is great for them to be a part of a loving family and friendship network.

It’s also important to get the individual out and about in society to ensure they are engaged and using their brain regularly. There are some great social activities for people with dementia, such as the Alzheimer’s Society Singing for the Brain and there are more and more Dementia Friendly community activities cropping up all the time - the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch is great for this.

Good hydration and nutrition is also vital to all care but particularly for dementia care as the individual may forget to eat and drink, therefore a care provider can set up structured visits for breakfast, lunch and dinner times.

Ultimately, good dementia care is about having a coordinated approach between the client, their family, their doctors, their care provider and any other health professionals to ensure the client’s wellbeing is at the heart of the care in place.

How can I make sure I have good carers who will not take advantage my family member?

Many families are concerned about the potential for abuse of their elderly relative, whether this is to do with the abuse of their financial position, security of their home or taking advantage of being close to the family member in another way.

Home care providers should have a number of processes in place to ensure that they are delivering high quality care, and ultimately this is overseen by the regulator – the Care Quality Commission. Any user of care services can seek advice or raise concerns with the regulator for investigating.

In addition to this, home care providers should have a number of checks in place to ensure they recruit people who have a passion for caring and the right attitude to deliver person centred care. Home care providers are required to conduct in-depth criminal record checks on their carers.

In addition to this, they should have a rigorous recruitment process and training programme in place to ensure their team have the right skills and behaviours to provide excellent care.

Ultimately, any good home care provider should be open and transparent in sharing the the processes they have in place to ensure they have a caring team in place, and they should also allow you to meet carers before the service begins.

How should home care providers communicate with the families of the clients they care for?

It is important to make sure your home care provider is open and in regular contact with the client and their family. We speak to our clients’ families on a regular basis, for example to provide updates of changes in mood or behaviour, or to gain feedback on our service.

One of our clients has a daughter who lives in London and works full time. She can check our online system anytime and see the care notes each time we visit her mum, which includes who visited, what happened during the visit and how she was feeling that day. She gets the peace of mind that her mum is safe and well cared for.

For more information call the family-led team on 01708 609 364, email havering@radfieldhomecare.co.uk or visit radfieldhomecare.co.uk.

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Lisa and Jennie are cousins who grew up in the borough. Their grandmother, ‘Nanny Fish’ was a huge part of their lives, and while she had dementia and increasing needs, she really benefited from having care in her nephew’s loving home. This experience was the inspiration for Lisa and Jennie to set-up their own home care service.

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