A Comprehensive Guide to all the Options for Care in the Home for the Elderly and Disabled

It’s everybody’s desire to live independently in our own homes for as long as we can . As we get older, we may need support and help to enable us to continue to do so.

This can take the form of personal care, making our home more suitable for our needs or financial assistance from benefits or elsewhere.

Help you might be able to get includes:

  • Personal care
  • Help to manage and feel safe at home
  • Financial assistance
  • Health services
  • The local authority social services department is the main state provider of assistance.

As an older person you will almost certainly be entitled to an assessment to establish what your needs are and suggest how those needs can be taken care of.

Each local authority sets eligibility criteria, which are rules identifying the services they will provide for different levels of need.

Contact your local authority social services department and ask them to carry out an assessment of your needs. Their number can be found via the phone directory or by Googling it or by visitng the local council directory.

Personal care

Personal care means help with daily tasks like getting up and getting dressed, washing and bathing. Providers of this kind of care include social services, private care agencies and voluntary organisations.

Across the UK, agencies that provide personal care workers have to be registered with the regulatory body for care services in that nation and are regularly inspected to ensure that minimum standards are met. If you need personal care or assistance with your essential daily tasks, you may qualify for an attendance allowance.

Your local authority will be able to give details of local care providers. The Care Quality Commission (CQC) are the national body responsible for the registration and inspection of social care services in England.

Help with your house and garden

You may require help with housework, gardening, shopping etc. Most local authorities only offer limited assistance in these areas. Local voluntary organisations, including Age UK, may be able to help or alternatively you can employ someone on a private basis.

Meals at home

Local authorities should provide meals at home to those who need them, either directly or through a voluntary organisation or private agency.

Some deliver hot meals, others provide frozen meals and a means of heating them. Any arrangement should take account of what you can manage: you should not be left with frozen meals if you will not be able to heat them up.

Local health services

Your GP can give you information about local services. These might include home visits from the district nurse or health visitor, chiropody, continence advice and other services.

Service levels are set locally so may vary from area to area. In England there should be a local Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS) to provide support and information about health services to patients, carers and families in the area.

Local voluntary organisations

Local voluntary organisations and charities operate in most areas. They may deliver services on behalf of the local authority but can be particularly useful in organising activities that your local authority does not provide. These might include gardening and home maintenance services, and those all important social activities, that get you out of the home, interacting with other people.

Is there any help for carers?

You may be helped by a family member or friend rather than a paid care worker. When looking at your needs, the local authority should not make assumptions about how much support your carer can provide.

Your carer is also entitled to ask for their own needs to be assessed. Carers can receive services to help them execute their caring role. Commonly what carers find most helpful is the opportunity to have a break from their responsibilities, even for a short time.

Financial support for carers is fairly meagre. There is a benefit called Carers Allowance paid to carers who provide more than 35 hours’ care for a disabled person but the amount payable is low and any other income your carer has may affect their eligibility.

The time may come when your current home is no longer suitable for you, even with care and support there. At this stage there are alternatives to moving into a care home. For some this may simply involve downsizing to a more manageable property. Before giving up your home, consider all the options like having a stair lift installed. Anything that helps your mobility and the accessibility of your home, should be considered ahead of moving from your “terra firma”.

How to approach your Local Authority for guidance, advice and funding for Stair Lifts and associated structural alterations to your home

Before making any decision about purchasing stair lift equipment, or making alterations to your home, it is advisable to contact a Community Occupational Therapist (OT), based at the local Authority/Social Work Department, who will come and assess your daily living needs. The OT will advise on feasible solutions and may provide simple equipment to use on the stairs ie a handrail. If an OT recommends that the solution is a stair lift, they will then inform you of grants that may be available to help with the cost.

Disabled Facilities Grants (DFG’S)

A disabled facilities grant may be available for structural work to accommodate a stair lift. A means test is used to ascertain how much financial assistance can be made available to the applicant.

Depending on the outcome of the test , the amount of assistance offered can vary from 0-100% of the total cost of the installation of the stair lift, and any structural work required to house the stair lift. However a limit of £30,000 will be put on each disabled facilities grant, irrespective of the applicants assessed contribution. The Housing Authority pays the grant, but has to consult the Local Authority to find out if you require the stair lift equipment and whether it will be the most appropriate solution for you.

Moving to more suitable accommodation

Many older people consider moving in with their children or other relatives. This can work very well but it is important that everyone has a realistic understanding of what will be involved, particularly if you may need increasing levels of care in the future.

There is also the option of sheltered housing. Also bear in mind that there are also increasing numbers of extra care sheltered housing developments, which offer a high level of support to residents while retaining a higher level of independence than in a traditional care home.

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