Organising care for a loved one can be daunting. With so many options out there – from live-in care to specialised dementia care and rehabilitative care – you may be unsure where to look.
Plus, since care can be expensive, it’s even more important that your loved one receives the right support for their individual needs.
To help you get a better idea of what help is available, we’ll explore seven common types of care. Once you’re more familiar with what’s out there, it’ll hopefully be easier to start putting together a plan.
1. Home care
A fear of losing independence and leaving home is a common reason why many people delay seeking care. However, the good news is that there are various care options that allow people to receive support from the comfort of their own home.
Having a paid carer visit your loved one at home can make a huge difference, especially if they have mobility issues. It’s worth considering care at home if someone’s struggling to cope with daily tasks, has trouble getting around, or doesn’t want to move into a care home (as long as their home is still safe and suitable for them to live in).
Home carers are often very flexible and can help with daily tasks like cooking, washing, dressing, and meal preparation.
Help at home from a paid carer usually costs around £20 per hour, but this will vary depending on the area. You can learn more about home care, including things to consider, a breakdown of cost, and how to arrange it on the NHS website.
2. Live-in care
Live-in care involves a fully qualified carer living in the home of a person needing care.
Live-in carers can help out with a range of tasks – including personal and specialist medical care, dietary needs, and keeping on top of housework. Live-in care is ideal for people who require full-time care but still wish to remain in their homes.
As well as care, people can enjoy full-time companionship through a live-in experience. In many cases, this can be an important benefit (particularly if the person in need of care is elderly), as loneliness is a proven issue for people in this age group.
According to Age UK, two million people in England over the age of 75 live alone, and more than one million older adults go over a month without speaking to anyone. In addition, you, other family members, and/or friends can also rest easier knowing that your loved one is being cared for every hour of the day by an experienced professional.
You can search for home care through care agencies or employ a care worker directly. For more information on where to begin your search and what to look for, take a look at our article; 7 questions to ask if you’re considering live-in care for a relative.
3. Overnight care
It’s more likely that older adults will wake up at different times during the night. This is due to natural changes that weaken the body’s circadian rhythm (internal clock) with age.
However, unexpectedly waking in the night can leave people feeling disoriented and at risk of falls or other accidents. Broken sleep can also make degenerative conditions (such as dementia) worse.
Because of this, overnight care can be a valuable addition to a daily or part-time care plan. It reassures both the person being cared for and loved ones that they’re being looked after at all hours.
Overnight carers can help with personal care routines, such as visiting the toilet during the night or fetching any necessary medication. Plus, making sure the person being cared for is safe throughout the night can encourage them to adopt healthier sleeping habits.
Overnight care can be especially beneficial for those with conditions like Alzheimer’s and dementia who may experience sundowning. This term refers to common disorientation and confusion that tends to occur during the evening in people living with these conditions. Overnight carers can help to manage these episodes.
Generally, overnight care in the UK costs between £100-£150 per night. However, this will vary from area to area.
4. Dementia care
Dementia is a progressive disease caused by a decline in brain function that affects a person’s memory and reasoning. The condition often makes it tricky for people to complete everyday tasks. Dementia is also progressive, so a person’s care needs will likely increase as their symptoms worsen.
During the early stages of the condition, most people prefer to receive care at home in a familiar environment. This can help reduce confusion, limit stress and anxiety, and help them cope better.
But if you’re currently seeking dementia care for a loved one at home, it’s worth finding someone with previous experience as a dementia carer and who has dementia awareness training.
However, as dementia symptoms progress, care homes are sometimes better able to meet people’s needs. This could be a residential care or nursing home offering specialised services for people with dementia.
Deciding to move into a care home can be difficult and emotional, but it’s important to remember that there can be many positives too.
For example, 24-hour support from staff and social activities held with other residents can all help to reassure people’s safety and wellbeing.
Other options include Admiral Nurses, who are registered nurses and experts in dementia care. Admiral Nurses work throughout communities, care homes, hospitals, and hospices, giving practical, clinical, and emotional support to people and families living with dementia.
You can find out more about Admiral Nurses, including how to get in touch, on the NHS website.
For more information on caring for someone with dementia, have a read of our article; 6 common challenges when caring for someone with dementia and how to handle them. And to search care homes across the UK, head over to the Lottie website.
5. Respite care
Respite care allows carers to enjoy time off work while another person covers their care duties. This form of care is essential for helping to prevent carers from feeling burnt out or run down. In some cases, it can also allow the person being cared for to have a change of scenery.
There are different variations of respite care. These can range from having a volunteer sit in for a few hours to a temporary stay in a care home that allows people to take a longer break. There are also day centres available which can take on care duties. Alternatively, you could arrange to have a paid carer make a home visit.
To get tips and advice on how to look after your wellbeing as a carer, take a look at our article; 8 ways to look after yourself when caring for a relative.
6. Parkinson’s care
Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease that affects the nervous system. Symptoms include tremors, slow or imprecise muscle movement, and muscle rigidity. Because the disease is progressive, people often require extra support during the later stages of their condition.
Many people prefer to manage their condition in the comfort of their homes for as long as possible. Options like home adaptations, assistive technology and equipment, and having some extra help at home can all improve quality of life.
For example, perhaps your loved one could have equipment such as a stairlift or bath rails fitted to make it easier for them to navigate their home. You can learn more about accessing home adaptations and assistive equipment in our article; How to get support at home and work if you have a disability.
Since Parkinson’s symptoms typically progress, people’s care needs are likely to increase. For example, patients may begin to struggle to carry out day-to-day tasks or be at greater risk of injuring themselves. Therefore, moving into a care home is sometimes a necessary consideration.
Care homes can be a great way to make sure your loved one stays safe and well. Some care homes also have experience dealing with specific conditions such as Parkinson’s and dementia, so it’s worth looking out for these. For guidance, you might like to have a read of Age UK’s checklist for finding a suitable care home.
You’ll find more information and guidance about living with Parkinson’s and finding the right care on the NHS website.
7. Convalescent care
The word ‘convalescent’ is used to describe a person who’s recovering from illness, surgery, or injury. Many people will need extra support after returning from hospital – particularly elderly adults.
If you have a relative in this position and they have no existing care in place, they may need convalescent care. This can offer some help around the house, allowing them to recover properly.
The exact type of convalescent care required will vary and depend on which illness or injury a person is recovering from. The overall purpose of convalescent care is to help people get back on their feet and reduce the number of emergency readmissions to hospital.
Many people can benefit from convalescent care – whether they’re recovering from a hip replacement and could just do with a little extra help around the house or from a more serious incident, such as a heart attack or stroke, and require more complex support.
Types of convalescent care range from manual machines that can lift and move people around their homes to help with simple tasks such as medication reminders. Some convalescent care can be administered at home, which allows people to return after a hospital stay instead of moving into a care home or other rehabilitation facility.
You can learn more about convalescent care, including how to assess your relative’s needs, on the NHS website.
Seeking and organising care for a loved one can seem daunting. However, with a little guidance, it doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience.
We’re lucky to have such a wealth of care options available in the UK, and once you become familiar with what’s available, it’ll become much easier to find a care plan best suited to your specific needs.
The most important thing is to find the right type of care for you, so don’t be afraid to lean on the various support services out there. It’s worth remembering that no one’s expecting you to be an expert, so try to reach out for help when you need it.
For further guidance on care-related topics, head over to the care section of our website.
Have you got experience with any of the types of care mentioned above? We’d be interested to hear from you in the comments below.