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Everything You Need to Know About Live-In Care for the Elderly

When the time comes to seek out elderly care, one of the options available is live-in care. Here we explore what it is, how it works and why it can be the ideal choice for many.

What is Live-In Care?

Live-in care is when a professional carer lives in their client’s home so they’re available to help throughout the day and night. 

An increasingly popular alternative to moving into a care home, it allows people to stay independent in the familiar surroundings of home while also receiving the day-to-day support they need.

Fully trained, a live-in carer will be there when your loved one wakes up, will keep them company throughout the day and make sure they’re safely in bed at night.

They’ll ensure all needs are met from preparing meals and cleaning floors to having a chat over a cup of tea.

And all while their client remains at home, part of their community, surrounded by memories and living the lifestyle they prefer. 

a mother and daughter together
A Live-In Carer provides continuity and routine of staying at home

Is Live-In Care Right for Me?

24/7 care at home is suitable for those who’d prefer not to move into a residential home but still need round-the-clock support with:

  • personal care including washing and dressing
  • cooking and housework
  • companionship
  • taking medication
  • essential trips such as to the shops, doctor or hairdresser
  • caring for a pet
  • managing risk in the home
  • enjoying hobbies

It’s an attractive option for people living with dementia who may struggle to adapt to change and be confused by a new environment. The continuity and routine of staying at home will reassure them, boosting quality of life and wellbeing. 

And hiring a full-time carer is perfect for people who only need care for a short time, for example when recovering from an illness or operation.

How to Arrange Live-In Care

There are three main routes to employing a live-in carer:

  • Employing a private carer which means you’re responsible for their tax and National Insurance contributions.
  • Using an introductory agency like Holm and personally choosing a self-employed carer. You’ll then manage and pay for their services directly while they remain responsible for their tax and NI.
  • Signing up to a traditional agency that employs its carers and manages the service for you, allocating a carer on your behalf. 

Depending on what service you choose, live-in carers can work to different rotas. For example, some providers offer a team of two working four days on, three days off. Others may work on a two weeks on, two weeks off basis. If you employ a carer privately or select your ideal carer from an introductory service, you’ll have more control over establishing this pattern, providing reassuring consistency and certainty.

And whichever service you go for, it’s crucial that your carer is fully briefed on your loved one. From the obvious like medical conditions and allergies to the not-so-obvious like favourite biscuits and TV shows.

a caring hand on a shoulder

Benefits of Choosing Live-In Care

There are many advantages of having a live-in carer:

  • One-to-one dedicated care from a team of two.
  • Continued independence and control thanks to staying in the familiar surroundings of home. With no set mealtimes or visiting hours, lifestyles can continue relatively unchanged.
  • Couples can stay together, increasing wellbeing. And if both need care, staying at home will cost less than two spaces in a care home.
  • Peace of mind for the client, their family and friends, that someone is available 24/7 if there are any problems.
  • Companionship from a familiar face, reducing the risk of loneliness and isolation
  • Encouragement and opportunity to keep up with hobbies and stay involved in the local community, boosting wellbeing and confidence.
  • Ability to keep pets which might otherwise need to be rehomed.
  • Less pressure on family relationships: when they visit, they’re there to share quality time, not fulfil a carer’s role.
  • Chance to go on longer trips and holidays as you can take your full-time carer along.
  • Support from a carer with specialist training for conditions such as MS, Parkinson’s, stroke and dementia.
  • Cheaper than full-time care at a residential or nursing home, with funding available depending on eligibility.

Before deciding that 24/7 care is the solution for your family, take the following considerations into account:

  • Finding exactly the right person for this very personal role can take time. Professional advice about this important decision is available from the experts at Holm.
  • Live-in care might not be suitable for those who might enjoy the social aspect of a residential home. Your loved one may also welcome being relieved of the responsibility of looking after a house. 
  • A live-in carer needs their own private room within the home which may be difficult if space is at a premium. Your loved one may also find it difficult to adapt to having someone else live with them.
  • Carers will of course need breaks, including holidays. Teams of two can limit the impact of this but there could be unavoidable times when a new carer needs to provide cover.

How Much Does Live-In Care Cost?

Choose your own personal live-in carer rather than basic residential care and it wouldn’t cost any more.

And of course for couples seeking care, live-in care is significantly cheaper than two separate rooms in a care home.

Most families will have to foot this bill themselves, although some will have access to state funding.

What Does a Live-In Carer Need?

As well as meeting the needs of your loved one, live-in carers also have important needs. They’ll be living and working in a private home so the arrangement has to be mutually suitable.

Before opting for live-in care, ensure you can provide the basics: their own room with storage for personal items, use of a bathroom, internet access and preferably a TV. They’ll also need a well-equipped kitchen to cook meals for themselves and their client.

Beyond these, you also need to consider their working hours, breaks and expenses. Also, if they’ll be living some distance from essential shops and services, do they have a car and if not, what are the public transport options like?

Basic boxes ticked, you then need to set realistic expectations. No carer can be expected to offer 24/7 care so discuss the following at the start of any agreement:

  • Minimum numbers of hours work per day and how many of these need to be consecutive. Live-in carers work an average of ten hours per day.
  • Number and length of breaks per day. The recommendation is for a two-hour break each day.
  • The arrangement at night: if they’ve worked during the day, they shouldn’t be on call overnight. But an agreement could be reached to allow one to two reasonable requests. Anything greater than this and compensation would be required.
  • Holiday requests: these should be confirmed with plenty of notice to allow an alternative carer to take over.
  • Sickness: live-in carers aren’t expected to work when they’re ill and should notify you as soon as they start to feel unwell.

Live-in care could be the best elderly care option for your family. Based on bespoke companionship and support, it’s designed to precisely meet your loved one’s personal needs.

They’ll be able to stay in the comfort of their home, maintaining independence and control and enjoying their familiar routine. And you’ll be reassured that there’s a professional carer available to them at all times. Not just to help with the practicalities of life but to offer friendship and trusted support.

Looking for your ideal live-in carer? Choose from the exceptional quality carers at Holm and you’ll find your perfect match.

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