The need for urgent change in the UK’s care system is highlighted in a ‘Better at Home’ report just published
The findings of a newly published report conclusively show that there is a need for urgent reform within the UK care system to improve the care offered to our elderly population who suffered unnecessarily during the past 18 months. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the vulnerability of older people and the failings that an institutionalized, inflexible model of care results in. Residents in care and nursing homes across the country were denied basic human rights and death rates in these homes were three times higher than the prevailing rate for over 80s (8,121 per 100,000 vs 2,376 per 100,000) – demonstrating the risk of the spread of infection in a care-home setting.
Trudi Scrivener, Managing Director of Amersham based Ashridge Home Care and founding member of the Live-In Care Hub – a non-profit organisation committed to creating awareness of 24/7 care at home, is part of the managing board which commissioned the ‘Better at Home Report’. The report has been published nationally and its findings conclusively show that the future of care needs to change to ensure the older population never faces such restrictions and isolation again. It highlights that live-in home care is an accessible and far better option than the restrictive care and nursing home choice so many people turn to when elderly or vulnerable family members need support, not realising the benefits of an alternative approach.
The 2021 ‘Better At Home’ report is part of a campaign for better care in later life. The Live-In Care Hub worked closely with the Personal and Social Services Research Unit (PSSRU London School of Economics / University of Kent) and ran a large secret shopper survey of more than a thousand care and nursing homes. It found that in many the resident’s freedoms were curtailed:
- More than half surveyed did not allow pets
- In a quarter surveyed, residents were not allowed out of the grounds for a walk
- Elderly people with a live-in carer had a 1.7% chance of having a hip fracture in one year versus a 3.2% chance of having a hip fracture in one year for residents at a residential care or nursing home
Live-in care offers a much more flexible and tailored approach. The individual has one to one care from a trained carer who has been matched to them, whereas in nursing homes this ratio is naturally lower. They can have mealtimes or a cup of tea whenever they like and the carer can arrange activities specifically tailored to the interests of their client such as knitting, playing the piano or art. Levels of happiness and satisfaction are much higher. They can go for a walk at any time if they wish, keep their beloved pets and stay close to family, neighbours and friendships that have been nurtured through their lifetime.
Trudi says: “In order to control the spread of coronavirus everyone has clearly had to abide by strict rules but no one more so than residents in care and nursing homes. In one instance we helped a client move out of a nursing home back into his own home with a live-in carer. Even despite the staff’s best efforts at the home, he was so frightened of a variety of people coming in and out of his private room that he wanted to leave. He was a fortunate gentleman who exercised his choice, not many others were so lucky, but instead had to endure months of isolation not leaving their rooms and adhering to strict enforced routines with little variety. I am working closely with other members of the Live-In Care Hub to change the future. “
She continued: “There is a place for specialist care and nursing homes but for a huge proportion of their residents they could have remained in the comfort of their own homes. I passionately believe that we need to spread the message the future will be different. The way we live is changing and a more individualised approach is needed enabling everyone to stay at home for as long as possible. It is affordable for many and compares well to the cost of a care home. Our research shows it is an infinitely happier and calmer way to live.”
After the first lockdown Ashridge Home Care was flooded with calls from concerned relatives and saw a large increase in live-in care requests. Ashridge Home Care offers both visiting and live-in care across the South East of England and both sectors saw a large increase. Live-in carers increased by 166% in just a short period of time and feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. Ashridge Home Care also won several awards during last year highlighting its commitment to its’ staff and clients, and the innovative way it handled the pandemic.
Many families automatically look at residential care options as they are under the misconception that live-in or visiting care is more expensive. In actual fact, the report highlights that live-in care is within financial reach of almost anybody who owns their own home. The report shows that, especially within the South East of England, live-in care costs are on a par with many care and nursing home fees and the ‘Better At Home’ Report is packed with information on cost and financing advice. The average cost of live-in care ranges from £800-£1500 a week.
Live-in care does not have to be permanent. Especially now, after the past 18 months of restrictions and insecurity Ashridge Home Care is reporting an increase in demand for respite care. Many people are using live-in carers as an opportunity to have a break. Ashridge Home Care clients Tom and Carol are fortunate enough to have their mother living with them. Once the government announced UK holidays were allowed Tom and Carol booked a break in May. They have employed a live-in carer that they have used on previous holidays to look after their elderly relative who is unable to accompany them. The couple said: “My mum has a diagnosis of Dementia and she lives with us in our home in Buckinghamshire. Throughout the pandemic we have been working from home much of the time whilst caring for her. After a year of being at home we are really looking forward to taking a break. As soon as we were able to we booked a UK based holiday. Ashridge Home Care will provide a live-in carer for Mum while we are away. This is such a great service as it means we can take a break without having to worry about her while we are away and the carer will also look after the cat!”
To obtain a copy of the ‘Better At Home’ report please click on www.liveincarehub.com under the resources section. There is also a link available on the www.ashridgehomecare.co.uk website under the blog section. https://www.ashridgehomecare.co.uk/news/