We all hope that we will live to a ripe old age, with good health and wellbeing on our side. Sadly, a high proportion of us will require some form of care or assistance as we age. It may be the result of ill health or an accident, and may be required for a short time only whilst you recuperate, but it is certainly likely that at some point we will need assistance to continue living the best life we can.
For those where care is required on a longer-term basis, the arrangements put in place to provide this can have a lasting effect on our quality of life and finances for our remaining days.
It is therefore worrying that a statistic recently released fears that almost 10% of Britain’s care home places will be lost within the next five years, due to huge funding cutbacks. Costs for providing such care have increased and continue to do so, with the rising minimum wage requirements and additional restrictions and equipment required to cope with the current Covid-19 regulations, elderly care costs are becoming a financial strain.
Care for the elderly is once again in the limelight and the country needs answers to funding issues to ensure that we remain able and equipped to look after our ageing population. The future of care provision is of great concern. Increasing worries of additional strain on already stretched care home budgets also raises the question of whether the level of care they are able to provide can continue, without fees rising beyond the level affordable for many of us. It would be quite possible to reach a point where the level of service and care required can simply not be afforded and as a result, substandard care becomes the only care available.
We owe it to ourselves and to our elders to investigate and find ways that we can improve the way we provide care and how we fund this going forward, to ensure that we do not hit a brick wall or find we are leaving our elderly taking up valuable hospital beds simply through lack of alternative care.
With the expected closure of around 1500 care homes and our NHS already stretched to beyond capacity, an extended hospital stay is not a viable long-term solution for elderly patients requiring support.
What Change Is Needed
We must ensure we can continue to provide suitable support for the elderly when they need care and great change will need to be effected to make sure this is so. The NHS are already strong advocates of providing care at home for the elderly as an alternative to a full-time care home. With the choice between live-in care and day visiting care or perhaps a combination of both, the NHS problem is alleviated by allowing the elderly to return to their existing home when they are in need of convalescence care or can no longer manage on their own.
For many elderly people, finding the realisation that they need daily help to live their lives to an acceptable standard is hard enough. The move to a residential home is something they wish to delay as long as possible. The option of affordable home care services can bridge this gap and allow the elderly to target help from a home carer where it is needed.
Care in your own home is the ideal and often preferred solution for many elderly people, with many reluctant and rightly so, against being forced to give up their home, many of their belongings and pets, simply to gain funding help to be able to afford the care they need. Companies providing in home care are sometimes cheaper and often a more readily accepted solution for continued care than a residential care home. This option may be the only one available for those with less savings or no privately-owned housing to sell to fund their care or for those who wish to remain independent and have social interaction away from home, it is the best all round solution.
Making Care Affordable
We need to ensure that live in care costs are affordable for those who make this choice. In-home care providers are already suffering with the rising cost of providing their services and the realisation that it is simply not possible to keep up with increasing costs by rising fees continually. They are doing their best to keep fees affordable, but realise that to remain viable on a long term basis they need help now and for the future. If they are to survive and continue providing their essential services, there needs to be a change in the way funding is provided across all sectors of elderly care.
The fear is that without the UK Government changing the way they fund care, and starting to offer viable funding to the care at home sector, it will be too expensive for the majority of our elderly population to be able to have access to the services that meet their care requirements. Being unable to afford the right level of care for the elderly will mean many are deprived of the chance of suitable care to remain in their own home. The provision of live in care which is generally cheaper and more easily available than a suitable care home place, is the best option for many of our older generation, having the advantage of a more personalised care plan which can be extended to provide social engagement as well as care requirements.
The demand is there and increasing for all care services, and in-home care services are particularly important as an option for elderly people who wish to retain a level of independence that would be lost from a residential home environment. We need these changes to ensure that we can keep up with demand. We need to protect our NHS, relieve pressure on care homes and meet the demands of our elderly who so often now wish to remain in their own home to see out their days.