Here, Peter Seldon, CEO of Consultus Care & Nursing explains the potentials of a revolution in elderly care and what we can do to get there
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” was how Charles Dickens described, in the opening lines of A Tale of Two Cities: a world on the brink of change. These words have contemporary resonance considering how our lives have been turned upside down during the COVID-19 crisis. Although yet to feel the final impact of the outbreak, we have a rare opportunity to embark on a ‘revolution’ around how social care is delivered in the future.
If this crisis has highlighted one thing, it is the exposure of many of our residential care homes to cross-infection which despite the heroic efforts of their staff and management, has tragically amounted to a death sentence from COVID-19 for many vulnerable and defenceless older people.
This highlights that the current ‘one size fits all’ approach to elderly care just isn’t working for many.
There is an alternative to this pre-ordained route, often stemming from default decisions taken by Adult Social Services to fund the cost of care homes for those with less than £23,250 savings, aside from the value of their own homes if they are living in them, and the option taken by many families who are simply not aware of an alternative for their older loved ones.
Lifetime mortgages and equity release products are now far more competitive and offer more flexible options for many families to retain the benefit of keeping the family home for the next generation as well as funding care.
24/7 Live-in care
24/7 Live-in care provided by Consultus Care and many other providers is less expensive than many believe and is a safe and cost-effective alternative to discharging people from the hospital into care homes, especially now when the risks of contagion within any building with multiple occupations have become so apparent. One-to-one live-in care very significantly reduces these risks and provides health and wellbeing advantages evidenced by academic research included in the ‘Better at Home’ Report 2020, as well as other benefits, including:
- Instead of selling family homes to fund residential care, with the resultant funds earning little or no interest in the banks, clients retain their own home in whole or in part (subject to lifetime mortgage/equity withdrawal funding) which tends to appreciate over time to the benefit of the next generation.
- Older clients remain in their own home with familiar surroundings, and their memories and routines.
- Pets can be retained, and family and friends can visit.
- Client’s independence is extended as life carries on as normal, covering all aspects of their care.
- Care is provided on a 1-1 or 1-2 basis and within the client’s own routine by a small group of known carers rotating with each other every few weeks.
The 24/7 live-in care sector is generally not well known or understood and is often overlooked. It makes up only a small percentage of the entire care industry, accounting for about 6% of the overall care market but it’s growing steadily with many providers up on average by 9% this year. Throughout these challenging times, live-in care providers like Consultus have proved beyond doubt that in addition to the other intuitive advantages above, looking after people in their own homes is the safest choice – a message which has been furiously hammered home by the Government’s “Stay at Home and Save Lives” campaign. In practice, however, the Government has ignored its own advice and guidance and has discharged approximately 25 thousand older people into care homes without being tested for coronavirus where sadly many have lost their lives to the disease.
In contrast, people who are cared for in the safety of their own homes enjoy extremely low rates of infection. In fact, Consultus has had no infections between carers and clients since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis, and that is typical of the sector. It really is time for central and local government health and social care organisations to look at funding better care for those who cannot afford it but who have paid taxes all their lives.
24/7 live-in care is a ready-made solution, enabling the most vulnerable to be cared for in the comfort of their own home. By considering the live-in care model you help reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 further. It is the safest way to prevent infection as it effectively shields vulnerable adults.
Currently, there are some 400,000 older people who live in care homes in this country and the vast majority are vulnerable by any definition; many have dementia or other forms of cognitive decline, often in combination with serious long-term physical health problems including diabetes and heart disease.
Making sensible use of the family home which typically grows in value over time, many families are in a position to make a sensitive and more rational decision about the care of their senior family members. But for many without the means to exercise their own choices, the current challenge is down to how taxpayers money is allocated.
24/7 live-in care from many specialist providers across the country is already debunking the myth that this service is ‘too expensive’; the costs are comparable to a good standard care home and particularly so for couples. During the COVID-19 crisis, the sector has seen many more people considering this option as the safest and most cost-effective way to receive high levels of tailored care.
One of the most humbling aspects of the COVID-19 story is the dedication of professional live-in carers. Consultus currently has nearly 700 of them, including nurses, across the country working to ensure the vulnerable are safe, in some cases risking their own health and wellbeing. The COVID-19 crisis has also ‘busted’ the other myth that choosing to work in care only requires low skill and delivers low value – and that’s across all types of care. This increasing public awareness will pave the way to a reappraisal of which jobs are most important in our modern economy.
That our experience of COVID-19 so far offers a mix of the “best and worst of times” – including some powerful reminders of what we already know – is perhaps unsurprising. In our lifetime this is the first time we have experienced a global pandemic. It is calling for judgements and decision-making, at national and local levels and with the crisis not over, it is still far too early to be complacent. The care system in the United Kingdom is facing huge challenges: Consultus Care & Nursing and other 24/7 providers are here with a readymade, well-honed and proven solution. “The worst of times” are hopefully behind us and we can now look forward to “the best of times” for some of the most vulnerable people in our society.
Please note: This is a commercial profile
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