Many of us hold certain beliefs about care. For example, some believe it’s inaccessible, while others feel that it marks a loss of independence. And with so much information available these days, it can sometimes feel difficult to sort fact from fiction.
But the truth is, there are many benefits to care, and with the right support and guidance, it doesn’t have to be such a difficult topic to navigate.
With this in mind, we’ve partnered with Lottie – a free service that helps families and retirees find the best care options in the UK to save them both time and money – to debunk six common myths about care.
Myth one – finding care for a loved one is always stressful and time-consuming
When faced with the realisation that a loved one needs care, knowing where to start with arrangements can sometimes feel overwhelming. For example, you might ask yourself: how do I know whether or not a care provider is reputable? Or whether they’re good value for money?
But the good news is that finding and arranging care doesn’t need to be stressful or time-consuming. There are many useful resources that you can lean on to make your search a little smoother.
Firstly, if your loved one is in need of residential care, you can connect with some of the UK’s best care home providers through Lottie. Not only is Lottie 400% faster than the average care home search provider, but once you’ve found your perfect match, their team of personal advisors will also support you through the rest of the process right up until the move-in day.
On the other hand, if home care is required, you can search for registered care agencies through websites like The Care Quality Commission. Our article o n how to talk to a loved one about care has a section on finding reputable care providers, which offers more guidance on this.
Alternatively, if you aren’t sure what type of care is needed, one of the most useful things to do is arrange a care needs assessment through your local council.
A care needs assessment typically involves an occupational therapist visiting someone in their home to find out how much their daily life is affected by their care needs. For example, by asking how they cope with tasks like cooking and dressing. The assessment will determine firstly, whether or not a person needs care, and if so, which might be most suitable for them.
These results can help you to gauge a much clearer idea of the type of care needed, and narrow your search from the get-go.
Myth two – accepting care means a loss of independence
One of the main reasons that so many people fear accepting care is because they see it as a loss of independence.
But, in fact, a lot of people find the exact opposite is true. And this can be the case across various types of care.
For example, many people who accept home care (such as live-in or day care) find that it actually increases their independence because they no longer have to rely on family members for help with tasks around the house or for lifts. Residential care, like that offered in care homes, can also offer people autonomy in these areas because they have everything they need in one place.
Plus, both homes and residential homes can promote independence by encouraging people to do as much as they can and want to in life – with the reassurance that someone will be there to help if and when required. This can encourage many people to step outside of their comfort zones and do things that they otherwise wouldn’t – for example, joining in with new social activities at a care home or hosting family at their own home with the help of a carer.
Retirement living arrangements are also worth mentioning, as these can open up a whole host of opportunities for people. This is because retirement living is often purpose-built for residents to enjoy a range of accessible facilities in order to meet like-minded people, engage in new hobbies, and complete everyday jobs such as grocery shopping right on their doorstep.
It’s also worth considering how you can encourage a loved one’s independence when helping them arrange care – for example, by involving them in discussions and reassuring them that the choice is completely theirs. You can read more about the importance of promoting independence in care and how to do so on Lottie’s website.
Myth three – there are only limited care options available
For a long time it was (and sometimes still is) generally assumed that when a person is in need of care, the automatic solution is for them to move into a care home. But there are plenty of other care options to consider.
While moving into a care or nursing home will be the right option for some people, for others, home care options – such as day care, overnight care, and live-in care – May be preferable. These can offer people the flexibility and freedom of staying in the comfort of their own surroundings.
For those who require some level of support but not necessarily around-the-clock care, options like overnight care and day care can provide a welcome balance. This could be particularly suitable for people with mobility issues or early-stage dementia, for example.
There’s also specialised care available for conditions like Parkinson’s and later-stage dementia, as well as convalescent care for people recovering from injury, illness, or surgery – which are specifically tailored to individual circumstances.
You can read more about different care options and which circumstances they’re best suited to in our article; 7 common types of care explained.
Myth four – care should only be arranged when someone has physical or practical needs
Many people will only consider the possibility of receiving care when there’s a physical or practical need. For example, if a person’s mobility issues mean they can no longer complete day-to-day tasks, or if it’s no longer safe for a person with dementia to be living alone.
However, while these are all perfectly valid reasons to seek care, physical and practical needs are not the only times when someone might need help.
It’s a well-known fact (though not always openly spoken about) that many people, particularly the elderly, suffer from loneliness. In fact, according to Age UK, 1.4 million older people in the UK are often lonely.
Not only is this a problem for our general wellbeing, but research has also revealed that loneliness and isolation among elderly people can impact health. For example, this study found that social isolation can increase a person’s risk of developing dementia by 50%.
Home care options, such as day care, overnight care, and live-in care, all offer people the chance to have someone there to listen, reassure, and chat with, while also having their practical needs met. The same goes for reputable care homes, where residents can mix with others and, at the very least, have daily interactions with staff.
For people who don’t necessarily need practical care (although, this can also be arranged depending on the level of care) but are looking to improve their quality of life by doing activities they love or starting new ones, retirement living could also be an ideal option.
Retirement living, such as in retirement communities, retirement villages, and retirement homes, can provide a great sense of community and belonging, as well as a wealth of opportunities and amenities for residents to enhance their lifestyles.
Lottie has over 200 reputable retirement living options available to browse, all of which are located in picturesque settings.
Myth five – everyone has to self-fund their care
It’s no secret that care can be expensive, but there are a few options available to consider if you need help with meeting the cost.
Generally speaking, most people will be expected to contribute towards the cost of their care. However, depending on individual circumstances, your local council might also be able to contribute.
The amount that a person will need to pay towards their own care will depend on both their level of need and what assets they have. This will be determined through a financial means test – conducted by your local council once a care needs assessment has confirmed the need for care.
You can read more about care needs assessments, financial means tests, and the circumstances your local council might pay for your care on the NHS website.
If the council is arranging care for a loved one, it’s also important to understand their right (or your right, if you have power of attorney) to decide how their personal budget is spent. For example, if you’re not satisfied with the type of home care suggested by the council, you can look for other services and ask your council to change who provides your care, where possible.
Equally, if your loved one needs to move into a care home, they still have the right to choose where they live. You can read more about the rights of the person needing care on the NHS website.
Myth six – there’s only support for people being cared for, not for carers themselves
Although rewarding, caring for somebody can be physically and emotionally taxing if not properly balanced with the rest of your life. This is why, if you care for someone, it’s important to take care of yourself and lean on the support available to you.
It’s a common misconception that there’s only support for people who need care, and not for carers themselves. But it’s just as important for carers to be looked after as it is for those being cared for. After all, only when you’re feeling your best will you be able to look after others.
Respite care is the term generally used for services that are designed to give people a break from caring. It can come in various forms; for example, someone might check in on the person you care for on a regular basis, or take them out to join a group activity or day centre to give you a break.
There are also some longer-term options, such as respite care homes, that allow carers to go on holiday.
It’s also important to address the common myth that unless you look after someone on a full-time basis, you don’t qualify as a carer. If you look after a relative, friend, or partner who’s either disabled or unwell as a result of a mental or physical illness, then, by definition, you are a carer. So it’s important not to play this down and make sure you’re looking after yourself too.
If you’re currently feeling stressed or anxious about a relative needing care, you might like to connect with people going through similar situations on the Carers UK forum or consider joining one of their support groups for carers.
Our article, 8 ways to look after yourself when caring for a relative, might also be a helpful read if you’re struggling.
Care can be a complex topic to unpack, and the thought of having to arrange it can feel quite daunting. But the good news is that by debunking common myths and leaning into the free services offered by organisations like Lottie, you can feel well-supported and armed to make the right care decisions for yourself and your loved ones.
For further reading, head over to the care section of our website where you’ll find information on everything from paying for care to guidance for carers.
Did any of these myths resonate with you? What other common care myths have you heard? We’d be interested to hear from you in the comments below.