Most of us value our independence and feel most comfortable in our own homes, but as we get older, deteriorating health can pose a problem. Help is available, however, so if you are keen to stay in your own property but require some assistance, these are some of the options on offer.
Choose your own care services
Whether you need assistance with housework and shopping, or more specific healthcare at home, you can choose to employ a care worker to help in your own home. Your local social services department or the UK Home Care Association can provide details of private care agencies in the area. A home carer or personal assistant can help with all kinds of problems, from getting in and out of bed, to bathing and getting dressed, to cooking and cleaning or taking you out for the day, and they can either be live-in carers or simply help out on set days and times. You should make sure any agency you contact is registered with the Care Quality Commission. It is also worth noting that employing a care worker privately comes with potential implications in terms of tax and National Insurance, and a contract of employment is a must.
If employing a care worker privately is not an option, you may be eligible for funding via your local authority. The adult social services department will need to carry out a care assessment to assess your needs, and may include specialist advisers such as occupational therapists or nurses to help understand your specific requirements.
Following the assessment, your local council will draw up a care plan and provide a written copy to you. While there will likely be a charge, the authority must work out how much you can reasonably afford, and there is usually an upper limit on what you can be charged weekly. In some cases the council will provide the care services direct, but if you are assessed as needing community care services, you may be able to choose the direct payment option, which means the council will make regular payments to yourself, allowing you to arrange your own care.
Where your needs are not too complex, for example if you simply require someone to help out with housework or shopping, it may be that your local council will not provide support. However, charities such as Age UK or the Royal Voluntary Service may be able to help, so don't be afraid to ask for help.
Do you or someone you know get help at home? What advice would you give to others who need assistance with independent living? Leave your comments below...