Blog | Angela Gifford

Home care for an increasing elderly population - what does it mean, what does an older person want.

Given the choice, the majority of older people wish to remain living in their own home and community, this is a fact. Staying at home is an emotive way of saying ‘I retain independence’.

However, if you read the papers, listen to the news programs you would be forgiven for thinking that care is what we talk about when a person is very frail, in poor physical or mental health and is in the higher age range of being ‘older’.

This surely is part of the problem, the substantial reasons why health and social care services are not coping, why services then necessary are expensive and the general public who pay for their own care services are full of apprehension.

When an older person acknowledges that they need some care, or help as they would probably term it, it is usually, unless at a time of crisis, when the first signs of domestic work is becoming problematical.

Reduced mobility in limbs, a little forgetfulness, tiredness and not caring quite so much on the domestic front as previously.

Helping a person to cope with such domestic responsibilities, as the old Home Help system did in the UK, is preventative medicine. Providing such help now as our population gets increasingly older would be financial efficient. It would enable thousands of older people to maintain independence for longer, it would help to prevent hospital admissions and provide ongoing social intervention for people on their own.

Regular ‘care’ workers would carry out the heavy cleaning, change the bed, do the laundry, collect heavy shopping or accompany a person to the local supermarket, etc.

It is not only about the tasks that become onerous but having such simple support encourages a sense of well being, a contributory factor to good health.

The current trend of Councils to mainly provide or organise care for people in the ‘substantial or critical’ brackets is poor thinking and management of an increasing problem where costs will continue to grow as continuing legislation puts up care costs annually.

Direct Payments and Personal Budgets enable a person to buy in care services but the criteria rarely includes the opportunity to buy low level care even if the most broad minded Council included the heading of ‘domestic’ in ‘low level’ care. (Organisations providing domestic services are not regulated in the same way as care organisations and this is an omission in my view).

Having worked with older people and their families for over 30 years, I believe that a return to the provision of low level care based on domestic assistance should strongly be considered for both national and personal economic reasons.

For emotional well being it is also more acceptable for an older person to seek and receive domestic support than to consider that they need ‘care’.

The re-introduction of services similar to the old Home Help system would therefore be a winner from every aspect.

By:  Angela E Gifford
Posted:  7 Jan 2013

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