Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, there has been a constant stream of stories on the spread of the virus in different sectors, including within care homes. This resulted in family members, understandably, wanting to take their loved ones out of care homes in order to take care of them in their own home.
However, this has also placed a huge amount of responsibility on their shoulders at an already stressful time. Paul Reynolds, of In Home Care, discusses how live-in care may hold the key to enabling vulnerable individuals to have the support they need at home, and provide reassurance to their loved ones.
The figures on Covid-19 in care homes are disturbing to say the least. At the height of the pandemic, it was estimated that around 400 residents a day were losing their lives to the virus, and by the end of 2020, the UK variant which surged through care homes had accounted for 60% of all total cases in the country.
With more and more news reports painting a terrifying picture of the impacts of Covid-19 on care homes, families became increasingly concerned and decided the best (and safest) place for their loved one was at home. Unfortunately, this had its own complications.
In a report published by The Guardian, there are around 400,000 people in residential care, many of whom do not have capacity to make decisions about their care for themselves and safeguarding measures such as Deprivation of Liberty (DoL) hindered the family’s attempts to take them out of the care home without the authorisation of a social worker.
For those who have been able to take their loved ones home, the next issue to address is managing the day-to-day care needs of their relative, whilst balancing other commitments such as home-schooling or work. Carers UK estimates that there are some 13.6 million people caring for someone else during the pandemic.
Many of us would not think about it, but the responsibility of caring for another person takes a huge amount of energy and dedication – coupled with the anxiety which accompanied each wave of the pandemic, and family members risk putting their own emotional and physical wellbeing in danger.
It is here that the role of a live-in carer takes great significance. Even before Covid-19 spread across the country, five million people were having to juggle work and care, with nearly three quarters of carers stating they had experienced ill mental health as a result of caring for another person. As more relatives take on the care of their loved ones, these figures are only going to increase.
Live-in carers, whilst providing essential physical support such as assisting with mobility and personal hygiene, bring with them a sense of security. For family members desperate to bring loved ones home but living in another part of the country, a live-in carer can provide the companionship and emotional support which is just as crucial as physical care.
Family members also have the added worry of who will be there to help if their loved one should experience a fall or if their health declines unexpectedly. The constant supervision from a trained live-in carer can be a great source of reassurance, as can the fact their relative is safe in the familiar surroundings of their own environment, reducing their risk of contracting Covid-19.
Though providers such as In Home Care are witnessing an increased demand for services, awareness and knowledge of home care support, especially live-in care, is still lacking. The vast majority of people automatically think of residential homes when deciding on care for themselves or someone close to them and whilst this is the best solution for some, there is work to be done to prove the clearest information on all options.
For instance, the cost of a care home against live-in care is fairly similar and can even be arranged for a couple under one package. Though there are regional variations, home care support can even be more cost-effective than a care home, and the flexible nature of live-in care makes it possible for short-term respite care to be in place to allow a person’s usual carer a break to take care of their own wellbeing.
The ‘new normal’ is still yet to be fully understood but what is becoming clear is that care homes have been severely impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Live-in care can provide a different solution and ensure that people requiring additional support can feel safe, in their own environment, with a professional carer on hand as both a source of help and as a friend as we begin to make sense of the post- Covid-19 landscape.