What can you do if a relative needs care?
Life is full of ups and downs. Especially in light of the events of the last couple of years, we are increasingly aware of the need to live in the moment and make the most of every minute.
So it can be uncomfortable to think about what we would do if we were faced with a family emergency. Somebody becomes ill or infirm, or is injured in an accident. We’d much rather act as if it will never happen. But sadly, sometimes it does.
If something like this should happen to one of your relatives, would you know what to do? Many of us wouldn’t. But it’s worth taking the time to find out now, rather than be scrambling around for information in an urgent situation.
So in this article we take a look at:
- Short term care options.
- Permanent care options.
- What kind of financial support is available if someone needs care?
Short term care options
If your relative needs care for a short period of time, there are two ways of achieving this; at home or residential.
At home short term care
If someone can be cared for at home, either after coming out of hospital, or to prevent them having to go into hospital, they are entitled to up to 6 weeks free care arranged by the NHS, in conjunction with local social services. This is known as intermediate, reablement or after care.
Another option is to arrange short term care at home privately. Many local organisations offer care within the home, and word of mouth or local social media recommendations are good ways to start going about this. You may also be able to get advice from charities such as Age UK, who may also be able to provide some voluntary help if needed.
Residential short term care
If a relative is leaving hospital and needs longer or more intensive convalescence or rehabilitation, there may also be residential options available. The NHS should advise you if they have suitable facilities available. Another option is to investigate temporary respite care at a care home.
We will look at care homes in further detail below.
Permanent care options
Sometimes an illness or an accident leads to an individual needing more permanent care. If this is the case, the first thing to do is to organise a Needs Assessment with your local social services. When you do this, a social care professional will either arrange a visit or carry out a phone or online assessment. They will ask a variety of questions to find out how well your relative is coping with everyday tasks, and to decide what is the best kind of support to offer them.
There is no charge for a Needs Assessment, and anyone is eligible for one irrespective of their level of income or savings.
If the Needs Assessment finds that your relative is in need of permanent care, the three most likely outcomes are:
- Home adaptation;
- Home care;
- Residential care.
Your relative will be offered various additions to their home to make it easier for them to move around and undertake everyday tasks. For example, stairlifts, walk-in showers, adapted baths, higher toilet seats, wider doorways, lower worktops and outdoor ramps. They will also be advised on mobility aids if relevant, and various household gadgets to help with daily tasks.
Home care involves a carer coming into your relative’s home at pre-agreed times. This could be several times a day or just a couple of times a week, depending on need. The carer will help your relative with everyday tasks as needed, including helping them get in or out of bed, personal hygiene, dressing, cooking, cleaning and shopping.
There are many companies offering home care in the UK – for example Home Instead – but it’s always worth checking out local recommendations.
Moving your relative into a care home can be a huge wrench, but there may come a time when it is really the best option. A good care home will not only provide a continual level of care for those who need it, but is also likely to organise social activities and trips for those residents who would like to join in.
As ever, both word of mouth recommendations and social media are useful places to start.There are also many online directories of care homes, including one by the Care Quality Commission.
What kind of financial support is available if someone needs care?
Depending on your circumstances, there may be financial help available, particularly for permanent care. It is important to look into all options carefully to work out what is the best way forward from both a care and a financial point of view. Whilst you could take out an unsecured loan to help in the short term, if you are looking at potentially years of care, you need to find a manageable long term way forward.
Any home adaptation measures costing less than £1000 can be paid for by your local Council.
If the home needs more expensive work, financial assistance may be available from other sources such as a Disabled Facilities Grant or a charity such as Independence at Home. You may also be able to get help from your nearest Home Improvement Agency.
If your relative’s ongoing home care is provided by the Council, there may be some payment to be made but this is likely to be a fixed proportion of the actual cost rather than the whole charge. Another alternative may be that the Council gives you some payment that you can then put towards the cost of a carer of your choice.
It is also worth looking into several benefits that may be available to your relative to help with the cost of home care:
- Attendance Allowance is available to help people over state pension age with the costs of remaining independent at home.
- Personal Independence Payment is similar to Attendance Allowance but for those under state pension age.
- Carer’s Allowance may be payable to someone caring for your relative on an unpaid basis.
If a care home is the only possible option for your relative because of health reasons, your relative should be eligible for a free place under the NHS Continuing Healthcare scheme.
Otherwise, there is some financial support available, but this is usually means tested, so will take into account your relative’s income and savings before deciding how much financial support they are entitled to.
If your relative does not have the means to pay their own care home fees, their local council will do a financial assessment and agree the “personal budget” that your relative will be entitled to. This splits the cost of a suitable care home between the council and your relative.
We hope that the above information is helpful in learning more about different types of care provision and what to do if you or a relative needs care for any reason.
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