Page 38 - Cheltenham Living Nov/Dec 2019
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                living life to the full - planning ahead
 Planning ahead for later life is not something that many consider as they approach mid-life or retirement age. In this article, we outline the considerable benefits for those who plan in advance before they have a critical need.
It is a sad fact that most people fail to plan for old age and yet we all know, or at least hope, we will live to experience it.
We spoke to Debbie Harris, Managing Director at Autumna about how her organisation is helping to support self- funding families in their search for the best care. With more than 10 years of experience, Debbie and her team have provided independent advice that has helped hundreds of self-funding families find their perfect care homes.
Debbie is keen to encourage people to think about how they want to live their later years. “It’s an anomaly that later life is the only major event we fail to prepare for, or even discuss with our nearest and dearest. Yet, like planning for a good holiday or a career move, the upside can be considerable.”
Debbie recounts the experiences of a lady called Dorothy. She lived alone for eight years after the death of her husband and was becoming increasingly frail, forgetful and isolated. This led to depression and she relied upon medication which she sometimes forgot to take. But she was determined to stay at home.
A fall necessitated a short stay in hospital and the advice to her family was for a stay in a care home, until she was back on her feet. The care home hit the spot for Dorothy; great food, lots of people to talk to, regular medication and something her family were unaware she was worrying about, ‘she felt safe.’
The respite stay was a life saver for Dorothy, and she decided to stay permanently in
the care home. Imagine how different the previous eight years might have been if she had understood what a care home could offer her. “Planning ahead, discussing how she would like to live as she got older and more frail could have ade a huge difference,” explains Debbie.
Finding a good care home
So how do you find a care home that hits the spot? According to Debbie, “As with any major decision, you need to do your research. Start with the key areas you need to consider in order to make the best decision.”
The questions to ask include:
• Where do you want to live?
• What type of care do you need? • How much can you afford?
• When do you want to move?
“When you have answered these questions and discussed them with your family, so they also know what you want, it comes down to what you like: just like choosing a holiday or a new job,” Debbie adds.
There are a lot of new homes being built and they are quite literally based on 5-star hotel standards. But some people may find this intimidating and a smaller, converted home might be more to your taste.
What are the different types of care?
The term care home refers to any residential care setting where the individual lives
either permanently or for a respite stay. Care homes are separated into two main categories; Residential care and Nursing care. Both of these types of care home
can support residents who are living with dementia.
With residential care, think of a hotel. You would expect your room to be cleaned, meals cooked, and entertainment provided. A care home provides all of this in addition to care, in varying degrees, from companionship to support to get up, bathe and eat.
A nursing care setting provides everything in residential care but they also include full time registered nurses on site 24/7.
Are you a customer or a victim of circumstance?
If you are paying for your own care you are most certainly a customer and one that care providers would very much like to attract to their care home. This makes you a valued customer, so make sure that is how you are treated and if you are not, go elsewhere.
What investments are being made in the care home?
When doing the research, the aim is to look for the differences between the homes including who is investing in their facilities and staff as this can affect the quality of stay.
“There is an increasing amount of technology being used in care and we believe it provides enormous benefits to
the resident as it frees up the carers time and provides highly accurate care records,” continues Debbie. “We particularly like the ability for family members to access some of the information recorded, this is a common feature in nursery schools, and we welcome its increased use in care homes as a way of keeping in touch with a resident’s everyday wellbeing.”
As an example, Person Centred Software is the UK’s largest provider of evidencing care interactions and monitoring software. An important element of this technology is the ability for relatives to view full details of the care provided to their loved ones.
John Stimpson, whose brother is a resident at Hale Place Care Home, a CQC Outstanding rated residential care home based in Tonbridge, Kent is an avid user of Person Centred Software’s Relatives Gateway.
“My brother became a resident at Hale Place around two years ago and I’ve had access to Relatives Gateway virtually all that time,” confirms John. “Because of the distance from where I live, I visit my brother regularly once a month. Communication
is difficult as he had a stroke and now cannot talk. It is really nice to check in to the Relatives Gateway and find out his general state of mind and happiness as I can’t visit every day.”
Will you need to pay for care?
Care in the UK is means tested. If your assets are below the means test limit then you may be entitled to some state funding of your care. If your assets are above the means test then you will have to meet the cost of your care yourself.
When funding your own care you need
a good idea of how to plan and manage funding - and also what to expect in terms of likely fees. However, you may also be entitled to funding support for ongoing medical needs, so you need to know about those options too.
Autumna recommends contacting Care Funding Guidance for further information. This is a not-for-profit organisation who can be reached on www.carefc.co.uk 0800 055 6225.
The final message is to research everything that is available to you and that means planning ahead wherever possible.
For further information from Autumna please visit www.autumna.co.uk or email info@ autumna.co.uk
About Mobile Care Monitoring from Person Centred Software www.personcentredsoftware.com
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