There may become a point in your life where your parents, spouse or relative, inevitably reach the stage that they can no longer be cared for either in their own home, or if living with you, in your home.
They may be suffering with a combination of physical and/or mental health issues, which require intense or prolonged care, or specialist nursing, and you simply can’t cope. Nor is the environment they are living in now suitable for their needs. If their condition has become unmanageable and they require nursing, or their care needs are now beyond your own physical capacity to cope, one solution may be to put your relative into a care or nursing home, where you hope that all their needs may be better catered for.
For most families, this is a heart wrenching decision and a highly emotional time. It takes time to come to terms with the realisation that your parents are getting older, and that they now need sustained 24 hour care to look after them. It is the realisation that you can no longer constantly ‘run up and down’ the stairs to check on them, assist with mobility, and provide 24 hour round the clock care to meet their needs. You want to do your best and continue your role as carer and provider, but their needs are simply too much for you to handle. Feeling guilty, helpless, sad and frustrated, are common.
No question, the upheaval and strain of putting a parent into a care home can be the most difficult, upsetting and traumatic experience, both for them, and of course, for all the family.
Choosing the right care home for your relative and getting this critical decision right, can also be stressful. If, unfortunately, your parents are at this stage in their lives, we recommend reading our book “How To Choose a Care Home”.
If they are going back to a care home from a hospital setting, or entering into a care home for the first time, check whether your relative is eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding. This is free funded care provided by the NHS to cover all your relative’s clinically assessed healthcare needs (including accommodation). It is not means tested. If you want to know more about this assessment process read some of our related blogs below, or visit our website: www.caretobedifferent.co.uk.
In the alternative, if your relative is not eligible for NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding, then their needs may be funded by the Local Authority through Social Services – which is means tested. Essentially, therefore, your relative may have to contribute to some or all of the costs of their care home fees from private funds – sometimes being forced to sell their home to pay for their care. In that scenario, you may want to seek professional advice from a financial adviser as to how best to fund the cost of private care.
The standard of care can vary from care home to care home around the country, and you really need to research this thoroughly to ensure that your relative is receiving the best care that they can get, in the most professional, supportive, warm and friendly environment for their needs.
The whole issue of coping with a parent in physical and mental ‘decline’ at home, and having to place them into a care home, was dramatically portrayed in the BBC Drama “Care”, in December 2018. This harrowing, but realistic drama, caused a public stir as its themes dealt with many sensitive areas and challenges that many families face with an elderly relative. “Care” highlighted several aspects: the emotional strain of placing an elderly relative, suffering with severe cognitive impairment into care (following a catastrophic stroke); the difference in care home environments, standards and staffing levels; care funding issues, and particularly the hurdles the daughters faced when seeking NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding (CHC) for their mother.
For the first time on TV, this drama exposed certain NHS ‘home-truths’ to the public, which must have made equally uncomfortable viewing for NHS practitioners involved in CHC assessments. The programme revealed how the NHS don’t overtly publicise that this pot of potential free CHC Funding is available to pay for your relative’s assessed healthcare needs; and if you do happen to chance upon it, suggested that the whole CHC assessment process is far from easy, and moreover, is slanted against you – to try and make it as difficult as possible to secure CHC Funding. If you’ve been involved in this process, you will recognise the problems only too well!
Unfortunately, the drama is no longer available on BBC i-player, but luckily, we have recreated the story background with added commentary, so you, too, can learn from this drama. Read our helpful blog: BBC Drama “Care”, “Shines A Spotlight On NHS Continuing Healthcare”.
If you have never heard of NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding, or are just starting to look into funded care for your relative, it really is worth a read! The blog also acts as a ‘living’ case study, which may be helpful to understanding some of the key issues and challenges surrounding the whole NHS Continuing Healthcare Funding process.
Share your experiences, tips and advice with others who may be facing similar challenges with their relative’s care…
Look out for our next blog which looks at protecting your relative in a care home.
However if you find it is too daunting, Care To Be Different provides a website filled with lots of handy tips, and free information and resources, help you along the way. Read our e-book, “How To Get The NHS To Pay for Care” and “The 7 Costly Mistakes Most Families Unwittingly Make With Care Fee” which we are confident you will find very helpful indeed.