My wonderful dad died at the beginning of April after a difficult time with heart failure. Mum found herself needing to arrange care at short notice, which we hadn’t envisaged being so challenging. In this article I share what I’ve learned about in-home care.
A rapid demise
My father had been living with the effects of heart failure for years, but none of us had forecast the speed at which his health would decline. One day he was climbing the stairs, the next he was too weak to get out of bed. After waiting two weeks for installation, the stair lift was fitted on the Friday then removed on the Monday, having been used only once.
Dad was fortunate to be able to stay in his own home until the end, but we needed in-home carers at ridiculously short notice. The distress he suffered and the stress we went through could have been reduced if we had realised how beneficial having carers support my mum sooner. We knew that dad was only ever going to deteriorate, but we also knew he wished to retain his independence as long as possible. Supporting both my mum and my dad in my dad’s final few weeks of his life taught me some valuable lessons.
My advice to you
Know who you would call and when. Mobilising the right support – from occupational health to district or specialist nurses – takes time, and we should perhaps have done so sooner. Many of the front-line NHS staff we dealt with said how fragmented the service has become since recent restructures. Your GP is usually the gatekeeper.
Getting care is not giving in. The care that dad received in his final weeks was hugely helpful in retaining his independence and dignity. It’s fair to say I hadn’t envisaged this would be the case. Having the right support allowed dad to get out of bed, shower and move around the house a little – the smallest of tasks which became almost impossible alone. The carers showed amazing compassion, encouragement and just the right amount of humour. Mum also benefited by sharing the burden with people she could trust. She felt confident that dad was being urged by someone outside of his immediate family to keep moving as much as his body would allow. Having the right care can be of support to every member of the family, including those of us not living close enough to visit every week. Being pragmatic and getting help as soon as it’s needed can save a lot of heartache for everyone involved.
Research care providers; the Care Quality Commission website is a great starting point. You can search for care homes, live-in and in-home carers and community-based services. For us, we found the most compassionate carers through a recommendation from neighbours. We would never have chosen them based upon their CQC report alone, so ask around and meet with lots of providers. Be sure to meet the carers themselves and not just the management team. One of our clients recently visited 40 care homes before she found one she felt was best for her elderly mother. So, give yourself time.
There are many ways of paying for care, so seek advice on which is best for you so you have peace of mind it’s affordable. Various allowances are available to help pay for care, but the paperwork can be complex and everyone’s situation is unique.
If you have questions about care, come along to The Retirement Café on Friday 12th May from 10am to midday. Over coffee and cake, listen to experts discuss options for finding and funding care. Justin will be joined by Kerry Mason, Christchurch Business Manager of MyLife Living Assistance, and Graham Duffy, Long Term Care Manager at Just, one of the UK’s leading providers of retirement financial solutions.
The event is free and will be held at our offices in Mudeford. To find out more or to register for free, visit www.mfpwealthmanagement.co.uk or call us on 01425 279212.