Organising care for a loved one can be a daunting experience. With so many options out there, from live-in care through to specialised dementia care and rehabilitative care – it can be tricky to know 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 might be available, we’ll explore 7 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
Fear of losing independence and leaving home can delay many people seeking care. However, the good news is that there are various options that can offer people 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 they’re struggling to cope with daily tasks, have trouble getting around, or don’t want to move into a care home (as long as their home is still safe and suitable to live in). Home carers are often very flexible and can help with daily tasks like cooking, washing and 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 find out more about home care including things to consider, breakdown of cost, and how to arrange it on the NHS website.
2. Live-in care
Live-in care is when a fully qualified carer lives in the home of the person needing care. Live-in carers can help with a whole range of tasks from personal and specialist medical care, through to dietary needs, and keeping on top of housework. Live-in care is ideal for people who have full-time care needs but want to remain in their own home.
Alongside care, people can enjoy full-time companionship through a live-in experience. Often, this kills two birds – especially if the person in need of care is an elderly relative – 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 people go over a month without speaking to anyone. In addition, you, and 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 you can employ a care worker directly. For more information on where to search and what to look out for, have a read of our article 7 questions to ask if you’re considering live-in care for a relative.
3. Overnight care
We’re more likely to wake up at different times during the night as we age due to natural changes that weaken the body’s circadian rhythm (internal clock). Unexpectedly waking in the night can leave people feeling disoriented and at risk of falls or other accidents. Broken sleeping patterns can also make degenerative conditions (such as dementia) worse, which can be difficult for everyone in the household.
As a result, overnight care can be a useful addition to a daily or part-time care plan. It provides reassurance to both you and the person being cared for that they’re being looked after at all hours. Overnight carers can help with personal care routines like visiting the toilet in the night or fetching any necessary medication. Plus, by ensuring personal safety throughout the night, overnight care can also help to encourage the person in need of care to adopt a healthier sleeping pattern.
Overnight care can be especially beneficial for those living with conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia who experience sundowning. This term refers to common disorientation and confusion that tends to occur in the evening in people living with these conditions. But, overnight carers can help to manage these episodes.
Generally, overnight care in the UK will cost between £100-£150 per night but 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 patients to complete various everyday tasks. Dementia is also progressive, so a person’s care needs are likely to increase as their symptoms get worse.
In the early stages, most people prefer to receive care at home in a familiar environment. This can help to reduce confusion, limit stress or anxiety, and help people better cope with their condition. If you’re seeking dementia care at home for someone, then it’s worth finding someone with previous experience as a dementia carer and who has dementia awareness training.
As symptoms progress however, care homes are often better able to meet dementia patients’ needs. This could be a residential care home or a nursing home that offers specialised services for people with dementia. Making this decision can be difficult and emotional, but it’s important to remember that there can be many positive aspects to care homes too. For example, 24-hour support from staff and social activities held with other residents can all help to reassure you of your loved ones safety and wellbeing.
Other options include Admiral Nurses – registered nurses and experts in dementia care – who can also offer support. Admiral Nurses work throughout communities, care homes, hospitals, and hospices, giving practical, clinical, and emotional support to 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, you might like to have a read of our article 6 common challenges when caring for someone with dementia and how to handle them.
5. Respite care
Respite care allows carers to have some time away while someone else covers their care duties. It’s essential in helping to prevent carers from burning out and or becoming run down. It also allows the person being cared for to have a nice change of scene too.
There are different variations of respite care. These can range from having a volunteer sit in for a few hours, to organising a temporary stay in a care home for the person you look after so that you can take a break. There are also day centres available to take on your care duties, or you could have a paid carer make a home visit while you’re away.
You can find out more information about respite care and how to arrange it on the NHS website. Your local council and carer’s centre will be able to provide more information about support in your area.
For more information on how to look after your wellbeing as a carer, have a read of our article 8 ways to look after yourself when caring for a relative.
6. Parkinson’s care
Parkinson’s is a degenerative disease which affects the nervous system. Symptoms include tremors, slow or imprecise muscle movement, and muscle rigidity. Because the disease is progressive, people will often require extra support in the later stages of their condition.
Many people prefer to manage their condition in the comfort of their home for as long as possible. Options like home adaptations, assistive technology and equipment, and having some extra help at home can all help to 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 find out more about accessing home adaptations and assistive equipment in our article How to get support at home and work if you have a disability.
However, as Parkinson’s symptoms progress and care needs increase, moving into a care home is often a necessary consideration. For example, patients may begin to struggle to carry out day-to-day tasks, or be at greater risk of injuring themselves. Through full-time care, care homes can be a great way to make sure your loved one keeps safe and well. Some care homes have experience of 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 is recovering from illness, surgery, or injury. Many people will need extra support after returning from hospital – especially elderly adults. If you have a relative in this position and they have no existing care in place, then they might need some help around the house to allow them to recover properly. This is the purpose of convalescent care.
The exact type of convalescent care will vary and depend on which illness or injury your relative is recovering from. Its overall purpose is to reduce the number of emergency readmissions to hospital needed – which government data shows is on the rise – and help people get back on their feet.
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 are recovering from a more serious incident such as a heart attack or stroke, and require more complex support.
Types of convalescent care can range from manual machines that can help lift and move people around their homes, to help with simple tasks like medication reminders. Some convalescent care will be a live-in arrangement, as this can allow people to return home after a hospital stay, as opposed to going to a care home or other rehabilitation facility.
You can learn more about convalescent care, including how to access 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 on hand in our country and as you become familiar with what’s available, it’ll become much easier to tailor a care plan towards specific needs.
The most important thing is to find the right type of care for each situation, so don’t be afraid to lean on the various support services out there that are waiting to help you. Remember, no one’s expecting you to be an expert, and there is plenty of information and advice on offer.