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Elderly Care at Home: The Questions You Need to Ask

Discovering that an elderly relative needs assistance in their day-to-day living arrangements can be a difficult time for families. With so many of us working to earn a living, dropping everything to arrange for care isn’t straightforward. It’s all too easy to feel guilty that you simply can’t take on the role of caregiver yourself, even when it’s completely impractical to do so.

With live-in elderly care becoming an increasingly attractive option, it’s important to make sure that you get satisfactory answers to any questions you might have. Handing over the care of a loved one to someone who is effectively a stranger can be daunting, but provided that you know the appropriate questions to ask, you can make the process a whole lot simpler.

Here are some of the most important points that you need to raise, to make sure that you select the most appropriate caregiver for your family’s circumstances:

May I See a Standard Contract?

Every agency should be able to provide a contract detailing the sort of care that will be provided. In-home care covers a wide variety of tasks, and these should be listed, along with details of costs. You should be provided with a breakdown of charges, along with guidance on hourly / daily / weekly costs. The contract should specify how payment should be made and how frequently, along with details of any extra costs likely to be incurred, such as VAT or NI contributions.

Do You Have Insurance?

Any reputable agency will have some form of insurance which they should be happy to give you access to. You should ascertain what happens if something in your relative’s home is damaged or broken, or if the caregiver should have an accident while on the property.

What Happens at the Weekend and Public Holidays?

You need to establish whether your relative will receive 24/7 care throughout the year, or whether there will be times when a live-in carer is not available. Some agencies might charge extra for cover at weekends, for example, so make sure you understand the details of your contract.

Is There an Out-of-Hours Contact Number?

Sometimes you might need to get in touch outside office hours, so make sure you are given emergency contact numbers.

Will My Relative be Assigned a Regular Caregiver?

Consistency is important, particularly where memory is impaired, so having one dedicated home care worker provides much-needed stability. It also allows both people to form a strong friendship. Make sure you understand the procedure if your relative’s regular live-in carer is ill or on holiday, or if a daily carer is unable to get to work on a particular day.

Mikis’ care story

In this short video, Nick and Maro explain their reasons for choosing Elder live-in care. They discuss how live-in care has allowed Nick’s father Mikis to stay independent in his own home while making a new friend at the same time.

Do You Check References and Criminal Records?

Any reputable agency will ensure that employees are thoroughly vetted, references checked and criminal records checked before assigning them work. This is particularly important when providing elderly care at home.

What Qualifications and Experience do Caregivers Have?

A good agency will ensure that they employ caregivers with appropriate skills and experience. Most agencies require employees to undergo continuous training in order to keep skills up to date and relevant. The agency should be able to provide information about your relative’s regular private care workers, including any special or relevant skills such as experience in dementia care of Alzheimer’s care.

Do You Keep Records of Hours Worked?

Most employees will be required to fill in timesheets to show hours worked. These may need to be signed by your relative, but you should be allowed to see copies if you choose to do so.

What if My Relative is Not Happy with the Caregiver?

The agency should strive to select an employee who will be compatible with your loved one’s needs, but sometimes people fail to bond. If this is the case, ask whether the agency will provide an alternative in-home carer.

What Happens in a Medical Emergency?

You need to be sure that a daily or live-in care worker is capable of coping in an emergency. The agency should have an emergency procedure that they adhere to, and they should supply you with details of the process. You also need to be contacted if such an event should arise.

Do You Offer a Trial Period?

Sometimes the only way to discover whether a service is appropriate for you and your loved ones is to try it out. Some agencies are prepared to offer a trial period so that you and your relative can discover whether the independent living option is suitable.

Private live-in care is a fantastic option for those in need of assistance who prefer not to go into a care home, but a trial period allows you to check whether this form of live-in care is appropriate for your relative’s needs.

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"Knowing how happy someone is with their care package makes all the hard work worthwhile!"

Katherine, Care Professional at Elder

Katherine Elder Carer

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