Caring for Mum and Dad

Most of us never really see our parents as old people. They don’t have the wrinkles that an elderly person we pass on the street has, nor have they lost their youthful vibrancy.

woman with her arms around her mum and dadTo us, they are simply mum and dad. Accepting the ageing process for our parents can be as scary and as strange for us as it is for them.

But, much as we hate to admit it, there often comes a time when our parents reach the point when they need some form of extra care and support to help them enjoy a good quality of life.

So what are the options?

Care homes

Putting your parents into a care home can be seen as a very negative thing to do, but I don’t think anyone should be made to feel this way. I’ve worked in some very lovely homes that have a range of activities for residents and some very well-meaning and caring staff. The advantages of care homes are that they have staff available 24 hours a day and meals (or assistance with meals) are provided.

Depending on specific needs, there are two types of homes: those which offer a basic care package to include personal care and assistance with daily living, and those which offer nursing care.

You can also find homes which offer specialised care and support to those with dementia. The Alzheimer’s Society provides excellent advice on what to look out for when choosing a suitable care home.

Retirement villages

Retirement villages or sheltered accommodation sites are low-level care providers. Residents have their own flat or bungalow with access to an alarm system or warden if they need any help. They don’t offer care packages, which means that residents are able to choose their own home care providers if they need them.

Some sites also provide a resident communal area and also arrange for activities to take place. If the retirement village doesn’t have a communal area, then your local authority might have information about activities in the area, as well as any available day care provisions.

Assisted living

Younger woman holding the hands of an older womanSome retirement villages operate an assisted living scheme.

Similar to a retirement village, there are flats and bungalows for residents, as well as communal areas. But they also offer on-site care, from regular check-ins and meal preparation through to personal care.

In some cases, they will also offer palliative and end-of life-care, which means that a resident wouldn’t need to suffer the trauma and distress of relocating.

I have previously worked in an assisted living scheme that had a restaurant, bar, post office and a convenience store on site, so plenty to choose from!

Family care

One of the oldest and unrecognised forms of care is family care. We never realise how much we care for our own family members because it comes so naturally to us. Our parents were the ones who brought us up, so why wouldn’t we return the favour to them in their twilight years?

Under the Social Care Act 2012, family carers are entitled to an assessment to see if they qualify for financial aid such as carers’ allowance. Most people don’t ever go into this for the money, but a little bit of help can go a long way.

Family carers can also request some form of respite care. This gives them, and the people they care, for a short break for a few hours, a weekend or even a week.

Home care

Caring for mum and dad 2 - articleA growing trend is to have home care or domiciliary care.

This means that your parents can remain within their own home, but with a little extra support to help them to maintain their independence.

Domiciliary care offers a range of services, including companionship, meal preparation and support to attend vital hospital appointments.

Home carers can also offer assistance with medication and personal care. Some home care providers offer trained nursing staff to administer medication as well as assist with the more palliative care needs.

You can find home carers through a specific and dedicated care agency, your local authority or individual self-employed carers.

My top tips

When it comes to finding the right care provision for your parents or loved one, it is important to choose a service that suits both you and them:

  • Check out all the options and where necessary visit care homes, retirement villages and speak with the home care providers.
  • Remember to consider the budget as well. How will the service be paid for? If the local authority has assessed your parent(s) as being eligible for care, then they will carry out a means-tested assessment to determine what they pay and how much may need to be contributed.
  • Don’t forget that if your parents have a hospital stay, they may also be eligible for up to six weeks of free care. Again, their needs will need to be assessed but if this is the case then talk to the NHS or local authority about re-enablement services or intermediate care.

Find out more…

Age UK – love later life.

NHS Choices – help for carers to choose care.

Care To Be Different – practical advice about Care Fees, NHS Continuing Healthcare, Care Homes, Care Funding Assessments and Funded NHS care.

Melanie Mitchell

About Melanie Mitchell

I own and run Cherised Homecare which offers in-home care, cleaning and a pet care service to the elderly in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire.

  • Hello Melanie, thank you for sharing this information, I have to say though that generally my experience with care homes has not been very positive. I have found staff to have only very basic training, especially when dealing with dementia they have little or no idea! Staff turnover is high as wages are low and hours long!
    This make continuity of care challenging, many care homes are run as business’s not as caring and attentive establishments.
    I agree there are some good care homes out there but in my experience which is quite extensive there are far more bad ones!
    My advise would be to try and keep family at home for as long as possible if you can.
    If you do need to use a care home, then visit at different times of the day, at least 3 or 4 times, talk to staff and residents and check on levels of staff training and on going development.
    Also ask about daily activities, keeping mentally and physically active for as long as possible is so important, as is good nutrition, visit at meal times too!

  • It’s hard to see someone we love becoming frailer, and so knowing the options for accommodation, funding, care, etc. in advance can help enormously. I think pet care is especially important as a pet is often an older person’s best friend, and I think this sometimes gets overlooked in care plans and care packages. Nice to see that you include that in your services, Melanie. 🙂