A live-in carer can make a massive difference to your loved one’s quality of life, enabling them to remain safe in the place they love and maintain as much independence as they can.
If you have decided that your loved one will benefit from a live-in caregiver, there are some essential preparations to be made before they move in. As with anyone coming into your home, you will want to ensure they have a comfortable environment in which to live and work.
Before this type of care at home starts, it is vital to ensure that your elderly relative knows that the carer will be living with them and is comfortable with this. If they need dementia care or are confused, there may be some difficulties initially, but they will soon become used to the presence of a carer in their home.
Their own space
A carer who moves into your loved one’s home with them will need their own space in which to sleep and spend time when they are not actually providing elderly care.
Caring 24/7 can be very demanding, both physically and emotionally, and it is important that the live-in carer has somewhere where they can enjoy time away from the person they are caring for. However well they get on together, the carer will need some time alone to unwind.
Most commonly, a carer will have a bedroom of their own, but if this is not practical, you could adapt a reception room or study for them to use.
Depending on your loved one’s mobility and the general layout of their house, it may be practical to consider whether moving them into a ground floor room would be advantageous. This could leave a free room upstairs for the carer, but it would only be practical if there are toilet facilities for your loved one downstairs.
There is no need to go to great lengths to decorate a room for a carer. The carer’s room should simply be comfortable, clean and have adequate heating.
Before the carer moves in, the room should be thoroughly cleaned, and fresh bed linen should be provided. In addition to a bed, the private live-in carer will need basic storage facilities such as a wardrobe and chest of drawers. A comfortable chair and a TV, while not strictly necessary, will help to make them feel more at home in the house.
Use of a bathroom
The live-in carer will not need a bathroom of their own, although this would be preferable. They will need clean and functional bathroom facilities that they can use, and if sharing a bathroom, there should be somewhere for them to store toiletries.
Although this may not have been a priority in your loved one’s life, WiFi is essential to many people these days so that they can keep in touch with others.
The internet is useful for many things, including keeping in touch with the care provider. If your loved one does not have WiFi, it is worth setting up a connection for the live-in carer to use, and ensuring that they have the code.
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Live-in carers will cook regular nutritious meals for their care recipients and will most likely eat with your elderly relative, so they will not need separate cooking facilities.
If they have any specific dietary needs, they will provide the special food they need, but otherwise they will eat the same food as your loved one. Eating together can help your loved one to become accustomed to companion care and enable them to create a positive relationship with the live-in carer.
You should inform the insurance company that covers your loved one’s home that they receive elderly care from a live-in caregiver, in case this impacts on the household insurance.
If your loved one has a car, ensure that the carer is added to the cover if you want their companion care duties to include driving your elderly relative to visit friends or to enjoy trips to places of interest. They may also need to use the car for shopping trips or other errands.
Your loved one’s needs and preferences will be recorded in their care plan, along with medical details such as their medication schedule, allergies and any dietary requirements.
However, it is helpful if you provide a list of important contact details such as your own phone number and contact details for other family members, in the event of an emergency. It is also handy to have a list of phone numbers of doctors, nurses, social workers and the local pharmacy kept next to the phone.
Elder’s live-in carers undergo thorough recruitment procedures that include DBS checks and careful checking of references, so you should not feel that they are untrustworthy.
Although, it is to everyone’s advantage if you ensure that cash and valuable items are kept somewhere secure so that no misunderstandings occur. This is particularly important if your loved one is living with dementia and could become confused about where a particular item is.
The live-in carer will probably be responsible for various household expenses, and you will need to decide how you want to manage these. Possibly the simplest method is to provide petty cash and ask the carer to keep receipts and keep a record of expenditure.
Alternatively, you may prefer to set up a separate bank account with a debit card that can be used by the carer to pay for anything needed on a day to day basis. Whichever you decide, it is important that both parties understand what is expected.