Blog | Angela Gifford

Care of the elderly - money may be tight but there is something that can be done

Recent BBC programs placed four ‘famous’ pensioners in the world of older people. People living in their own homes and people who were spending the last years of their lives in a residential care setting.

Common to all the older people was the fact that their lives were not as they would wish them to be. A wife unable to take a break from caring for her husband and a wife, happy to have her husband back after hospitalization but not being given the full support available to her. Older people with mental health problems placed in front of a television set with no apparent effort being given to offer any other stimulation.

Viewing the two programs, there seemed an overwhelming need to find how to offer a much more engaging and stimulating existence. The quality of happy lives seemed to be missing

One has to bear in mind that an edited television program may not give the whole picture but the overall impression that was left with most viewers I am sure is one of sadness and a wish that we do not find ourselves in similar situations when we too are old.

Is it about money? The average cost of a care home place is £442.00 per week less than it would cost to stay in a 2 star bed and breakfast hotel. The bed and breakfast hotel only has to provide a bed, clean linen and breakfast. A care home has to provide 24 hour care staff, three meals a day, maintain their services to the standards of the Care Quality Commission, provide on going training, personal and domestic care, equipment and perhaps one or two vehicles. All this on £2.63 per hour per resident.

Money therefore does have an influence on life within a care home but some life enhancing activities do not necessarily take large amounts of funding. As one or two glimpses into the care homes showed, a sing song, a trip out for a pub lunch, a person who has five minutes to listen, all can add to a quality of life that is better than every day being the same.

Shortage of care staff across all care services, the need to make the care workers jobs task orientated, the lack of decent wages, the high turnover of care staff are all elements that have a direct bearing on how peoples lives are detrimentally affected when the need for care arises. This does not have to be the case.

Person centred care is a government and media phrase that has now lost much of its validity because it has been used so frequently. However, this is a phrase than can enable a person receiving care to have a better quality of life.

Most people need contact, social contact, a cheerful person taking an interest in them. Care workers who bother to find out about the person, find out about the lives they led, the family they had and have, the things that interested them, what work they did, the questions can be many, but once a care worker finds out, natural conversation in the weeks and months ahead will flow and an older person’s life will be at the very least, a little better.

Ideas to give that bit extra will then naturally occur to the care worker, something as simple as bringing a magazine article relating to the village/town where the older person used to live, remembering a birthday, bringing a bunch of flowers from a garden, reminiscing about an old song heard on the radio, etc.

It is, as we all know, the little, caring things in life that make us smile and feel better about ourselves. The financial cost is negligible but the benefit to both the carer and the cared for are of great value.

By:  Angela Gifford,
Able Community Care, Norwich, NR14 8TZ

Posted:  9 Jul 2012

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