Archive for May, 2012

Myth-busting Care for the Older People

When your elderly parents need care it can feel daunting as you have probably not had experience of the elderly care system before. Let me try and help you understand more about it by dispelling some of the myths that surround care for the elderly.

The state will fund my parents care and provide support to arrange it won’t they?

Older people will not receive any financial help or practical support  from Social Services if they;

  • Have savings, investments or assets (including their property) above the current limit of £23,250. ▪ Are considered to have enough income to pay for their own care.
  • Do not have high enough care needs to meet their tightened eligibility criteria.
  • Are able to arrange care and support  themselves or have a relative who is willing or able to do so on their behalf.

For those people who are eligible for social care funding, only their basic needs will be met and they may have to contribute towards the cost, in some cases quite significantly. If your parent is funding themselves in a residential home and their money runs out, Social Services has to take over funding their care fees. However, they may have to move into a smaller room in their care home or move to another home altogether if the home refuses to lower their fees to the maximum that Social Services are willing to pay.

While the eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare funding has always been restricted to those with the highest, most complex, unpredictable, and unstable health needs, the interpretation of the eligibility criteria has become tighter and the same applies to the Registered Nurse Care Contribution (RNCC).

Social Services will provide care at home for my parents if they need it

Social Services will only provide in-house care or commission agency care if your parent meets the criteria outlined above. Even if  they meet the criteria, most Local authority Social Services Departments will only fund personal care and will not help with daily living tasks such as housework, shopping and preparing food. Some authorities are stricter than others and it’s always worth checking first. It is also important to check whether your parent may be entitled to welfare benefits such as the Attendance Allowance which can be used to help pay for their care and support.

Social Services will take your parents home away to pay for their care?

This is not necessarily true. Property will not be taken into account for home care support or if the person going into care has a spouse or dependent relative living in the home.

Care provided by charities and not for profit organisations costs less than commercial ones?

This is not true. Businesses and not for profit organisations have to operate a business model and make a profit. The only difference is that that they use their profits to develop their services. In my experience some so called not for profit organisations can actually cost more, especially if they have a bureaucratic infrastructure.

If my parent’s are eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare (CHC) funding they will not have to pay for their care.

Also untrue. If your parent is awarded CHC funding they will be reviewed each year to see whether they have improved in any way and no longer meet the funding criteria. With painful funding cuts ongoing, sometimes NHS assessors interpret the national assessment tool differently so the person is no longer eligible for funding. If this ever happens to your elderly parent, there is an appeals process. While not for the faint hearted, because it is time consuming and log winded, it is usually worth doing as thousands of pounds can be reimbursed and saved if you eventually win.

The care landscape is changing rapidly and new legislation is on the way. As Social Services and the NHS seek new ways to meet the demands of the ageing population, having to do more with less will be their mantra and we will be expected to play an even bigger role in caring for our elderly loved ones. It is therefore vital that you understand and anticipate realistic funding entitlements to enable you to help your elderly parent plan their care. Check to see whether Social Services or the NHS might contribute towards the costs. Without this information you might make misguided decisions about your parents’ care and support and how to fund it. You can find out more at

Checklist of Benefits and Other Payments (2016/17)

From April 2016 there will be no increase for most benefits for older people with the exception of pension benefits

Read more

Tell Tale Signs of a Great Care Home for People With Dementia

With the recent shocking publicity about abuse and bad practice in care homes I am focusing my next posts on helping people find and assess care homes and how to spot abuse. As my own mother is in a home for people with dementia it is a subject dear to my heart!

So, how can we ensure our loved ones receive the best care possible when they are vulnerable and we entrust their care to others? While accepting that nothing can provide a 100% guarantee there is a lot we can do to minimise the risk of choosing a bad home or leaving someone that you care about in one.

When I wanted peace of mind about my own lovely Mum, I had a mental checklist of easy ways to assess the care home and ensure the care being offered was person-centred – without them feeling they were being quizzed! Let me share them with you:

1. When choosing a home, make sure the care being offered is person centred by observing both the residents and carers when you look round. Do carers look engaged with residents and enjoying their job or harassed with bells constantly left unattended? Do they bend down to talk to residents at their own level, rather than wielding their power by towering above them? 

2. Can you see evidence that they know the person they are caring for, or are they just treating them as someone to wash and dress? Check out the Manager’s attitude by asking something like “How would you respond if my mother wanted to return home” He or she should be recognising the emotional needs of insecurity your mother would be feeling and her sense of loss and talk about how she would offer support and help her with this.

3. It is very important that carers not only have the right training but also are able to transfer the training into practice and demonstrate their understanding of dementia so they can support the resident in a person centred way. Find out how carers, especially new and agency carers know about an individual’s background so they are able to enter their world. You will find it easy to spot when care is task rather than person centred because residents are washed and dressed and sitting looking lost.

4. It is a regulatery requirement that everyone who lives in a care or nursing home has a care plan . Ask how the home will use their Care Plan to ensure that your parent receives individual care for their individual needs. Ask to see an example and look for information that talks about the individual’s strengths and attributes and their likes and dislikes as well as their needs. Also ask how often care plans are reviewed and how this is done.

5. Look for evidence of meaningful engagement. Are a range of activities and outings offered to reflect different interests or are activities confined to listening to a blaring radio and watching TV in the lounge?

6. Are rooms personalised to reflect a resident’s personality? I was proudly shown a collection of tractors on some shelves once and told “Bert loves tractors” The only trouble was he spent long periods in his bed and chair which faced the other way! If you are concerned about the responsibility of finding a good care home for your elderly parent, you don’t have to do it on your own.

Here are some organisations that will help you.

Alzheimers Society

Age Uk

The Relatives and Residents Association (RRA)

Counsel and Care

Reducing the strain on carers by improving independent living

In today’s climate of cut backs and rising costs, it is more important than ever to explore as many options as possible to resolve the difficulties faced by our elderly relatives. I am therefore delighted to have guest blogger today, Matthew Ward,  from Manage at Home, an excellent on-line directory of resources to help people remain independent at home. So over to Matthew..

Carer support can often be a wonderful thing in later life – but it certainly comes at a cost. Not only is it relatively expensive, but it can also leave many feeling like they have lost their independence.

Often, many elderly or less mobile people are capable of living comfortably in their own home by simply making a few additions around the house. And there are plenty of reasons to support these moves.

According to statistics published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre, 87% of publicly funded homecare is now provided by the independent sector, compared to 5% in 1993. In parallel to this, it was also reported that there was a falling number of people receiving state-funded care indicating that the statutory sector is targeting services to those who need more intensive support, rather than those with lower level needs.

After all, we are an aging population – according to UK National Statistics, over the period of 1985 – 2010, the number of people aged 65 and over increased by 20% to 10.3 million and will increase further by a massive 50% over the next twenty years.

Bearing all this in mind, living aids at home could help relax this demand for carers as well as enabling more elderly or less mobile people to live self-sufficiently.

So what kind of equipment is available to avoid requiring care? Well, there’s plenty, and it really depends on which area you are wishing to improve upon.

Mobility is a common complaint for those who are over 65 for a number of reasons: weakness, arthritis, partial paralysis, limited movement. There really are a variety of reason why someone may require assistance, particularly if living alone – and the good news is, there are plenty of solutions available on the market today. These range from grab rails, a hand rail that can give you something to hold on to for safety – whether it is needed next to the bath or up the stairs – to indoor trolleys, a walking aid designed specifically for use inside, due to its smaller frame enabling movement between furniture.

The idea of daily living aids is that life is made that little bit easier, especially when you consider that the less mobile may struggle with simple tasks such as bathing or answering the front door.

Of course, home improvements can be made and there are walk-in baths in existence as well as showers with seats designed for this very audience. However, these options can become costly and for those on a budget, as many pensioners will surely be, additions rather than replacements can be more financially beneficial. Let’s stick with the bathroom for one moment. Instead of a walk-in bath, why not consider a bath seat or bath lift – seats that are designed to lower you into the tub without the worry of slipping or struggling with flexibility.

Companies such as Manage At Home, a website retailer which provides these goods as well as installation, specialize in this area in order to support those who yearn to live independently.

For further advice visit