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Who would you trust with the care of a loved one?

Posted: June 2021

The pandemic has brought many aspects of life into sharp focus, not least the loneliness and vulnerability of the older generation. There can’t be many of us who haven’t experienced the grief and anxiety caused by a loved one being trapped at home without the face-to-face love, support and companionship they so rely on.

We’ve heard a lot in the news about the heart-breaking impact on residents of care homes, unable to see their loved ones because of restrictions on family visits. But we’ve heard a little less about those older people who choose to live at home but who still rely on the support of family, friends or visiting carers. 

This reliance is not unique to Covid times, so how can you make sure your loved one has the care and support they need when they need it?

Care at home
The concept of “homecare” has never achieved the same degree of public awareness as residential care. Unless they’ve had first-hand experience, most people equate elderly care with care homes. And while they serve a vital function in the later stages of many people’s lives, care homes are only one piece of the care jigsaw.

It’s well-documented that the majority of older people would rather stay in their own homes, even if they require a little support to do so. Homecare is often the answer. It can provide flexible, needs-based care visits as required, while providing reassurance to family members that mum or dad is receiving the help, care and companionship they need.

Finding the right time
Deciding when to get a helping hand at home can be difficult. Most people, quite understandably, want to retain their independence for as long as possible. Yet family members often see the need earlier than mum or dad may want to admit. This can make for awkward discussions.

More worryingly, if delayed until an unexpected incident – a fall, illness, or rapid deterioration in mobility – families are suddenly faced with making urgent decisions about a situation they know precious little about.

Caroline Southgate of Doris Jones, a Westcliff-based homecare company, makes a cautionary observation: “Most people have their Will in place, and even their funeral arrangements, many years before they need to be enacted. But very few consider arrangements for the period between full independence and their passing. This can often be many years, during which their happiness, health and wellbeing may well be dependent on the increasing support of others.”

Unlike the dramatic upheaval of a move to residential care, home care is highly scalable. It might begin with a simple weekly visit to tidy the house, prepare a meal or go out for a walk. Then, as a relationship is formed and a person’s needs develop, visits may become more frequent. “We are well used to helping both clients and their families navigate those early stages,” explains Caroline. “Delivering outstanding quality homecare not only requires sensitive planning, it relies on great teamwork with everybody involved in a person’s wellbeing: GPs, pharmacists, visiting healthcare professionals, social workers and, of course, the family.”

So where do you start?
Finding the best homecare for a loved one can be a daunting task. There are over 200 homecare providers within 15 miles of Southend. And that’s just the ones registered with the Care Quality Commission.

There are numerous sources of information and advice, but nothing beats a genuine recommendation from a trusted source. 

Caroline talks of a ‘trusted circle’ that surrounds each client – a group of people and organisations for whom the happiness, safety and wellbeing of the person requiring care is of paramount importance.

“Every family has a trusted circle,” explains Caroline, “which might be comprised of family members, friends, neighbours, community groups, churches and so on. There might be someone you’d go to for advice on where to get your car serviced, or for restaurant recommendations. But who would you ask for help finding the right care for an elderly relative?”

“We are hugely honoured to have become a part of many local families’ trusted circles over the years. And as those circles overlap, word spreads and more families come to us for support. The vast majority of our clients get in touch as a result of trusted recommendations – something which makes the whole team feel very proud indeed.”

From Oracle Southend, June 2021