There are many reasons why elderly people may live in care homes, even if they are able to live independently. With the average life of a person in a care home being around 15 months, and the costs of care-homes especially a good care home being what is best described as crazy-prices especially if medicine needs to administered.
This means only well-off families can afford the costs or families need to either sell the home or mortgage (equity-release) to cover the costs of care-home.
Having worked with many care-home providers, principally running a care-home is like running any business and care homes can be highly profitable, there are external authorities that may inspect care homes and rate them for health and safety, giving some level of comfort to families, but the culture is something that is hard to know.
Online reviews and talking to other residents and their families will help to pick a somewhat good care home.
The opinion of the staff at My SOS Family is that the cost of care homes are “crazy” and over 50% of residents we met didn’t want to be there.
We’ve listed out what we’ve seen as four key reasons / causes of moving into a care home and other affordable options to consider that may compensate this.
1) Health concerns:
Some elderly individuals may have health issues that require ongoing medical attention or assistance with everyday tasks taking medicine, preparing meals, or personal hygiene care. Because care homes provide around-the-clock care and support that may not be available at home.
There are plenty of domiciliary care providers also known a in-home help, some of these are qualified nurses, retired nurses. However, to make a buck most employ young staff on low wages and they will help out with personal hygiene care like having a shower/bath, cleaning the home, preparing meals etc. there can be in-home living care or daily visits, the price of these are much lower than residential care-homes , but can still be significant.
An alternative is the au-pair style route, where you find someone from overseas via an agency who wants to learn a language, possibly has home study or studies in the evening at a local college, it’s all down to interviewing and picking the right person.
It’s also very important that any family consistently monitor and check-in and that any access to money is limited i.e. that the person caring isn’t able to influence the senior person to depart with money.
Whilst it’s attractive to pay cash-in-hand, it’s better to consult a local accountancy firm or use an agency and for a few hundred dollars/pounds/euros they will set-up employment taxes and can manage this for you, also they can help get employee insurance which is mandatory in many countries and only costs a few hundred dollars/pounds/euros a year and an agency will be responsible for this.
There should also be a simple way the senior looked after person can if there is a problem alert family members, neighbours and friends to help.
2) Safety concerns:
Elderly people who live alone are prone to falling or other accidents, especially if there are mobility or balance issues. Because care homes are designed and adapted for the elderly and therefore can be a safer environment, not only with they be adapted with features like grab bars, handrails, and emergency call systems, there will be employees and other residents who can help.
Home adaptation can be a low cost alternative, most weekend newspapers have supplement advertising catalogues of equipment and a google search locally and mobility shops can be found.
Rather than changing everything including the kitchen sink, consider asking an occupational therapist to perform a risk assessment which is a review of the home and the specific needs of elderly person, they will know what needs to be changed and can provide advice and contacts on who can do this and price this up and there may also be local or national government grants and loans that could be accessed.
An emergency alert service is always a good idea, but remember that 99% of all providers have call centres many miles away from the user and sometimes with national providers like Lively ( previously known as Greatcall ), Appello, Live24, Tunstall, Age UK, Doro care they can be hundreds if not thousands of miles away and don’t provide a call out service.
They will talk to the person sending the SOS Alert if they can, and only have access to generic information provided to them when users sign-up. The process it to contact emergency contacts on their list or if it’s a medical emergency they will call 911/999/000 and connect users.
The cost is much lower than care-homes, live-in care and domiciliary care, but they sell on fear and there are many lower cost alternative apps and services like My SOS Family. Our advice is to do lots of research and pick the service that works best with the user and the family.
Be mindful and sensitive that users don’t feel that no-one cares as it can be perceived family members aren’t willing to help and instead outsourced to strangers in a call centre.
It’s important that physical contact, checking-in regularly as it helps with wellbeing and positive outlook – don’t we all need to feel loved and not alone, through action and not just words.
3) Social isolation:
Elderly people who live alone may also be at risk of social isolation, which can have negative effects on both physical and mental health. Care homes provide opportunities for social interaction with peers and staff members.
Searching for local activities and clubs for elderly relatives and signing them up for them helps them stay connected with people and their community.
If they follow a religion or are interested in one, and there is a local place of worship, contact them as they may have outreach programmes where community groups may come out and visit homes,
If there are local community classes like chair yoga, painting, singing, then check to see if they have a transport service, even book a local taxi/cab service who can pick-up and drop off your elderly relative to events,
This breaks-up the week and just an hour per day with other people can make a massive difference and push back a lot of health issues and the need to move to a care home for many years.
4) Family support:
Some elderly people may have family members who are unable to provide the level of support they need to live independently. Care homes can provide a supportive and caring environment that may not be feasible in a home setting.
Any support is better than “zero support” and so whilst families are busy and may need to work miles away and are feel they cannot support their loved ones and those that can afford it feel like they are doing the right thing for their family elderly family member by admitted them to a care home, we advise that you ask your elderly family member what they really would like to do and live.
My SOS Family team have visited many care homes and talked to residents and a common thread is that their son or daughter works fare and late and because of a recent fall or injury they convinced it was in the best interest of the elderly person to move into a home.
They say they have nothing against the home, but hate living there and want to live in their own home / flat.
Every time we hear this we feel sad for them, their quality of life and mental wellbeing is not in the right place and we can only worry that this will also adversely affect their lifespan.
Live-in care and supporting their independence will work out a lot less in terms of cost than a care home, most importantly it's what they want, and should help with their mental wellbeing.
Give them the choice
It's important to note that each individual's situation is unique, and the decision to live in a care home should be based on individual needs and preferences and there are some amazing care-homes that families can afford and residents love living there and if you are one of the lucky ones who this applies to , we wish you the best, for everyone else we hope some of the above advice will help you in some way.
My SOS Family emergency alert service are easy-to-use apps for smartphone (android and iPhone) and also for smart speakers like Alexa, Google Home and even provide a speed-dial easy-to use number to add to a home phone, users trigger an SOS in an easy way like pressing a big button or say “Alexa MY SOS Family”, find out more by looking around the website and test it free for 30-days and see if it helps you and your family.