Other Care and Support Services
Other care and support services that are a vital form of support for many thousands of vulnerable people across the country and help to maintain independence, social inclusion, and delay or avoid the need for more statutory interventions include:
This aims to give recovery and rehabilitation support to help older people regain their independence when they come out of hospital or, just as importantly, prevent them going unnecessarily into hospital. Reducing the strain on hospitals and their therapy resources, intermediate care means older people will not have to move into residential care permanently (at least in the short term) or stay longer than desirable in hospital. Intermediate care can be provided in your own home or in a care home. It can be provided by care staff, occupational therapy and physiotherapy, with additional support provided by the local GP surgery, social workers and community nurses. This combined resource helps older people to regain their independence and feel confident in their ability to manage for themselves with any necessary additional support. Intermediate care, including any care home fees, is provided by the NHS and is free. It is usually limited to a maximum of six weeks.
Day care centres
Many older people can feel lonely or isolated without an opportunity to fill their days with meaningful activities. Research has shown that one way to alleviate loneliness and promote wellbeing and independence is to provide regular social contact and a focus for activities.
Day care centres give people the chance to have a change to their routine, meet new people, take up an activity or receive specialist services such as chiropody or hairdressing. There is a wide variety around the county, catering for older people, people with mental health conditions, learning disabilities and dementia. Transport to and from centres can be arranged through Adult Social Care or Age UK. Centres can be as important for carers as those attending as they allow for a regular break from caring. Attendance can be free, although transport and meals must usually be paid for. If you are eligible, you may be able to have a Personal Budget (discussed on page 8) to arrange your own services. Many services are free, provided by volunteers, often working for charities. Others are offered by individuals and small businesses, finding imaginative ways to deliver new services to older people, and in some cases, to replace services that used to be provided by local authorities.
Meals on Wheels
Delivery of ready meals to your home may be available. There are services that provide delivery of frozen meals, or delivery of freshly cooked hot meals. Frozen meals can be delivered in bulk and kept in your freezer until required, though the delivery of hot meals is for immediate consumption. Councils can arrange meals delivered to your door, or meals on wheels, though you would have to meet their eligibility criteria for older people and it wouldn’t necessarily be free. National and local commercial organisations can also provide meals delivered to your door at a charge.
Adapting your home
To enable you to remain in your own home for as long as you would like ensuring that your home is safe, secure and warm is the starting point. Some forward planning to ensure that the garden doesn’t become a burden is sensible. If you are not planning to move, think about adaptations that would make life easier now and later on. Of course, these things can be daunting, especially if it’s a case of having to bring in someone to do jobs you used to happily take on yourself. But there are reliable tradespeople to be found – ask around. And there are also non-profit organisations known as Home Improvement Agencies that work specifically for older people and can tackle, or help you tackle, most kinds of home maintenance, repairs and adaptations.
Home Improvement Agencies (HIAs)
HIAs are local not-for-profit organisations funded and supported by local and central government. They pride themselves in working professionally and sensitively with older and disabled homeowners, providing advice, support and assistance to help them repair, improve, maintain or adapt their home to meet their changing needs. Most HIAs provide three main services:
- Information and advice on repairs or adaptations you may be considering. This usually entails a visit to your home, and is often free.
- A ‘handyperson service’ for small jobs and repairs. Typically the HIA will employ its own handypersons, and charge you an hourly rate for their services.
- A‘home adaptations service’ for more major works.
The HIA will work with you to specify the adaptations needed, and they will normally offer to get estimates from one or more of their regular contractors. Subject to your acceptance, the HIA will then offer to manage the works contract for you for an agreed fee. HIAs may also be helpful if you are not sure you can afford the home repairs or adaptations you need. They can advise on your eligibility for any grants and, if necessary, put you in touch with an
Independent Financial Adviser.
Telecare is equipment that can detect falls, inactivity, smoke, flooding, gas or extreme temperatures in the home. Sensors, which are placed in the home, are triggered, and an alert is received either by trained operators at a 24 hour call centre, or directly by a relative or carer. Telecare can allow users to remain independent and relatives and carers are reassured, safe in the knowledge that should an incident occur, they will know about it. Some devices can also help monitor particular health conditions and reduce the need for hospital admission. Telecare can help restore confidence for people who feel vulnerable in their own homes for a variety of reasons – that could be because of living alone, frailty or the need to summon help in an emergency. It could also be as a short-term measure during a period of convalescence. Telecare can seldom replace care and assistance from people – it usually enables existing care and support to respond more effectively and can sustain carers in their role. Telecare can only be used where there are sufficient carers or care support available to respond quickly when an alarm is raised.
A simple definition of occupational therapy is that it helps people engage as independently as possible in the activities which enhance their health and wellbeing, using a variety of methods including adaptive equipment. This aims to manage potential hazards in the home and prevent falls.
Reablement is a programme of short term care designed to help people regain or maintain their independence – giving them the confidence to cope at home again. It is designed to help individuals relearn or regain the skills they need to live independently. This is a form of short term support which might be appropriate for people leaving hospital or for those experiencing problems in managing at home. It is a service provided specifically to help individuals to manage tasks on their own, rather than making provision to do it for them.