Archive for June, 2013

Arranging A Tradesperson For Elderly Relatives

When your elderly loved one needs a job done, don’t look in the newspaper or on-line. There are some rogues out there who don’t have a conscience. Whenever I am supporting someone to arrange for a tradesman to attend to something in their home or garden, I always check the directory offered by Trading Standards departments called “Buying with Confidence”. Every trader and business listed in this guide has been vetted by Trading Standards officers to ensure that they: Carpenter

  • Are committed to fair-trading and to providing a quality service for their customers.
  • Can produce Criminal Records Bureau checks for staff who want to work in people’s homes.
  • Make sure their staff are competent for the work they carry out.
  • Deal with customers promptly, efficiently and courteously.
  • Undertake to comply with the spirit of the letter of the law and not restrict customers’ rights.
  • Have a sound customer complaints procedure.

Ar Relative Matters we have a Book of Recommendations where I log people/firms who have been recommended to me.

While these measures can’t guarantee a good job  by an honest and reliable tradesperson, the chances of a good job being done at a fair price are greatly increased.

Caring For An Elderly Relative

Caring for an older disabled relative can have practical, financial and emotional challenges. But you’re not alone. There are over 6.5 million carers in the UK of which 1.5 million are aged over 60.

Carers provide unpaid care by looking after an ill, frail or disabled family member, friend or partner. They are people like you who provide care without pay, out of love, respect, responsibility and duty. Carers give so much to our society yet they often experience poor health, poverty and discrimination as a consequence of caring.

Wear the ‘Carer’ label

I have met many people over the years who refuse to wear the label of carer, preferring to perceive himself or herself as a son, daughter or other family member. For some people this is really important and their wishes should be respected. There are benefits though in using the term carer, if you provide regular care and support to someone (your relationship to them doesn’t matter) because it will enable you to get help when you need it.

Be persistent when looking for support

The contribution that carers make is often forgotten and taken for granted. Services can be difficult to access, complicated to understand and information about available services can sometimes be difficult to obtain.

mother and daughter pic

Social Services and NHS Trusts are given grants from central government to provide services for those carers, who provide substantial and regular support to people receiving social care support. Those services include, for example, breaks from caring responsibilities and gym and swimming fees to promote their own health and well-being.

However, it is very much a postcode lottery and the priority given to providing support for carers, especially if the person they care for fund their own care and support, varies enormously across the country.

Take care of YOU

When I was caring for my terminally ill father, I  found that I quickly became lonely and felt isolated, so make sure you have someone to talk to regularly and maybe join a Carers Forum where you can get support, information and advice from other carers. Also you need regular breaks from caring to recharge your batteries. If you check out the organisations listed below, you will find the support you need  to do this.

Looking after yourself is very important.  How can you maintain stamina for such an emotionally and physically demanding role if you don’t look after yourself?

Useful resources

To help you find out what is available quickly, I have listed some services that will help you.

The Carers Direct helpline: 0808 802 0202, offers confidential information and advice on caring by calling.  Lines are open 8am to 9pm Monday to Friday, and 11am to 4pm weekends. Calls are free

Carers Direct also offers lots of information and advice for carers on their website  Carers Direct  and also offer an excellent practical Guide To Caring

Carers UK also offer a comprehensive range of information for carers on their website or contact their free Carers Line 08088 08 777

Alzheimer’s Society. Has information about caring for someone with Dementia. You can find them on their website, or look in your relative’s phone book for their local office

The Carers Trust  has a comprehensive site providing information, advice and support services to carers. Check out their website at or telephone 0844 800 4361

Carer’s Allowance Unit. Provides information regarding Carer’s Allowance, the main state benefit for carers, including eligibility and how to make a claim. You can find it at Carers Allowance Unit or telephone 0177 289 9489

Vitalise. Provides holidays and respite care for people with severe disabilities with or without carers at five purpose built centres in the UK. Also offers special Alzheimer’s holidays for people with Dementia and their carers, which are subsidised by the Alzheimer’s Society. Check out their website at or telephone 0845 345 1970

A Family Carers' Tale – Caring For Someone With Dementia

Here is a story about how my elderly care consultancy, Relative Matters, helped two sisters care for their elderly mother who was living with dementia, at home.

Emma and Ruth’s Story

Emma had been concerned about her mother Martha for a while, because she had been showing signs of dementia, such as repeating questions to Emma and becoming confused when she carried out basic tasks like preparing scrambled eggs or heating a pizza. Eventually Martha was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia.

At first Emma and her sister Ruth, took turns to stay with their mother but soon found they could not keep it up. We found a small day centre not far away, which specialised in looking after people with dementia, so Emma arranged for her mother to attend, five days a week. This enabled Emma to continue her career as a physiotherapist and her sister to spend more time looking after her husband, who recently had a stroke. We pointed out to Emma and Ruth that when Martha attended the day centre, she would be kept safe, socially stimulated, receive nourishing food and regular drinks.

As their mother’s disease progressed, we helped Emma and her sister to claim the higher rate Attendance Allowance and arrange for regular carers from an agency to provide care and support for their mother before and after she attended the day centre.sisters

To help provide consistency, we advised Emma and Ruth to set up a Care Journal for their mother. Whoever was with Martha, would record the important details of their shift, such as food eaten, fluids consumed, bowel and bladder movements, activities accomplished and other relevant information.

Emma, Ruth and the care workers became proficient at using the hospital bed and hoist provided by the district nurse, a wheelchair, wheelchair ramps and a food processor to prepare easy to chew, soft food as Martha had chosen not to wear her dentures. We suggested Emma and Ruth arrange for Meals on Wheels to be delivered on a Saturday to give them a break from preparing food and free up time to take their mother out.

When their mother became ill with pneumonia, Emma took special leave from work and moved in to look after her. During Martha’s last forty-eight hours of life, she was loved and comforted by Emma and Ruth, attended by the district nurse and heard her son’s voice over the phone, all the way from Australia.

Paying For Care- Why Care For Mum Has To Be Paid For

People continue to be confused and surprised  when they learn that they have to pay for the care of their elderly mother, partner, or relative. The reason for this is that people get social care confused with the NHS, so let me explain the difference.

The difference between NHS and Social Care Funding

With a few exceptions, such as the contribution towards prescription charges, NHS services are free whereas social care services are means tested.To satisfy the criteria for social care support, an individual has to have a significant or critical level of need, minimal savings and assets of less than £23,500 (including their home if they own it) for residential care and £14,250 for support in their own home.

Paying for residential and home care

At best people have to pay a contribution towards the cost of residential care and at worst, they have to pay the total cost. For home care only people on the lowest income with minimal saving, receive fully funded care, most have to contribute towards the cost of care at home.

Alzheimer’s Disease

People often think that Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia come under the NHS and are therefore free. Unfortunately this is not the case unless the person has a ‘health’ need, in which case they may be eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare. This will depend on strict criteria laid down by the Department of Health.

Eligibility for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding

Support and funding for NHS Continuing Healthcare is determined on the basis that someone’s primary care need is a health need. A primary health need is determined by:

  • The nature or type of condition or treatment.
  • The complexity – symptoms that are difficult to manage or control, or by their intensity – one or more needs which are so severe that they require frequent and skilled treatment.
  • The unpredictability – unexpected variable needs that are difficult to manage and present a risk to the individual or othI hope by now you can see that other than in exceptional cases, people at best have to contribute towards the cost of their care and many have to find the full cost of their care. You can find more information on my other blog posts at Costs, Planning and Specialist AdviceThe Two Best Kept Secrets, Choice and Help with Care Home Fees, Demystifying Social Care Costs, As I have said before, my advice is to seek advice from a financial advisor that specialises in funding long term care fees and is registered by the Society of Later Life Advisors (SOLLA) who ensure that all advisers registered by them have fully satisfied all criteria to become an accredited adviser. This means peace of mind and assurance that the advice you are given is from financial advisers who have proved they have specialist knowledge of the sector. You can find a SOLLA registered financial adviser here