A Guide to the Elderly Care Landscape: Everything You Need To Know

If you're newly responsible for finding elderly care for a family member or friend, it can be difficult to know where to start. Here is a guide to the UK elderly care landscape.

There is a wide range of housing options that you may wish to consider as you enter your autumn years. This article will give you an overview of the four major types and give you an idea of what you can expect from each with regards to the level of care you can expect and how much it could set you back.

You should also bear in mind that not all of these services are available in all areas, meaning that it is not uncommon for people to have to relocate to enjoy the level of care that they desire/need. You may take the opportunity of moving into to be closer to (or further away from!) family or relish the opportunity to move somewhere completely new! The possibilities are vast and the choice is all yours. Wer hope this article provides you with the guidance you need to start thinking about this decision.

The four major types are:

  • Assisted Living
  • In home care
  • Nursing homes
  • Palliative care homes

Assisted Living

Second only to in home care, assisted living facilities offer perhaps the highest degree of independence out of any of these options.

Residents live in their own furnished private rooms/flats and are free to get about their daily routine with no assistance should they so desire. Crucially, help is at hand should it be required. The staff are there to help with the everyday activities of life including cooking, cleaning, shopping, dressing and medications. As well as this, there are medical staff on call 24 hours a day should you need them. These facilities are ideal for those who have a moderate to high degree of functionality but would benefit from the odd helping hand and can rest a little easier knowing that medical professionals are on standby.

These services vary greatly in price but generally start at about £900 per month, while more luxurious assisted living schemes can set you back ~£4000 per month. It is important to do your research and visit before signing up (Read our other article on what you should check out!), as the quality of home and care can vary wildly.

In home care

In home care is another fantastic option for those who want to maintain their independence but could benefit from a little assistance with some specific tasks throughout their daily/weekly routine. Trained professionals will visit your own home at a time of your choosing to help with those tasks which may be a little too strenuous.  They can help with many of the same activities of daily living that you can get help with in assisted living facilities. However, the staff are not usually medically qualified, so that is something to bear in mind if the assurance of trained medical care on stand-by (in an assisted living facility for example) is something that would give you piece of mind.

Many of the companies providing these services also offer home modifications to make your life, and the life of their staff, that little bit easier. Modifications to help with mobility may include the installation of a ramp, hand-rail or stair-lift. They can also widen doors, lower counter tops and generally make your home a safer and easier place to live.

Due to the exceptional range of services offered it is impossible to give an accurate estimate on the cost of this type of service. Everyone’s needs are different and the type of and degree of input you need will determine the price. There are usually several competing companies serving one area so make sure you shop around and compare!

Nursing homes

These homes are aimed at those who require a higher level of input from the staff. In some homes residents will get private bedrooms, while in others the living quarters will be communal. The staff are expected to routinely assist with the majority of everyday activities from getting up, washed and fed, to mobilising, getting back to bed and everything in between. All washing and cleaning is done by staff and meals are provided as well as on-site para-medical services such as physiotherapy and occupational health. Like assisted living facilities there are medically trained staff (usually many nurses and at least one doctor) on site at all times. Unlike assisted living facilities, residents are more bound by the routine of the home. While this may be restricting for some, many of the residents enjoy the extra contact and the majority of these homes provide a degree of programmed activity and entertainment throughout the day.

As expected, along with this greater degree of input, there comes a bigger price tag: rates typically start at around £5000 per month.

Hospices and Palliative care

Hospices are very similar to nursing homes but are specifically aimed at those approaching the end of their life. Residents usually have a greater degree of impairment and the home’s job is to try to minimise distressing symptoms and make the process of passing away as comfortable and painless as possible. Palliative care is the name given to this type of management.

Residents usually spend around six months in these homes. They are generally more peaceful environments than other facilities and routinely offer services such as spiritual care etc..

Many people would prefer to pass away at home. Should you so wish to, then there are plenty of companies that offer palliative care in your own home or at a place of your choosing.

Palliative and hospice care is generally cheaper than that provided in nursing homes as it does not involve expensive, unnecessary and often futile, escalation once a “ceiling-of-care” has been established and expectations have been set.