Recently we visited an old friend who has been moved into a Care Home by his family.
For years he and his wife would sit in their flat and do literally nothing all day. They were neither happy nor unhappy, just living each day as it came, and loved it when someone visited. They had both given up going out anywhere, even with family.
Unfortunately, his wife ended up in hospital after a fall. She returned home but was never the same again and within a month was back in hospital where she died. Her husband tried to cope without her but it became increasingly obvious to his family that he wasn’t coping well by himself. So they found a room in a Care Home.
He has settled in and is very happy. He is now very active and enjoys being looked after and finding there are plenty of activities during the day. His only regret is that he and his wife didn’t move in ages ago. “She would have loved living here”, he told us.
I’m not saying that everybody should pack their bags and move into a Care Home. But it certainly makes you wonder if that’s an option many would benefit from. You don’t have to be completely senile, but getting help with general day-to-day tasks like baking and cleaning, while being able to enjoy activities to keep your mind sharp doesn’t sound too bad to me.
I know many will say that it costs an arm and a leg to stay in these places. And many of us would much prefer to leave money to the children rather than spend it on living out our last few years in relative comfort. But, given the choice, I would definitely opt to “spend my children’s inheritance” on making my last years fun and as comfortable as possible.
backofbeyond 5th August 2022 at 6:56 pm
Well, never say never as you don’t know what’s round the corner, and the day may come where a care home seems like the least worst option. But, for me anyway, I would hope that it represents a step very close to hospital admission. To enter a care home while in reasonable control of my faculties would be a very unlikely step. This topic has come up in conversation in our extended family / friends group on a number of occasions and almost everybody has been of like mind – an absolute last step. It may be necessary but not until disease or decline has made it unavoidable.
The couple of times I’ve known people (family as it happens) go into care homes its been when their decline has reached a level where anything short of full time care would not be sufficient, and in both cases the end came fairly rapidly. The process of actually finding a suitable care home was protracted and very costly in terms of time and stress. It’s not an easy process and far from just ring up the local one and book a room. At the moment I know two other people who are teetering on the edge of care home entry. In both cases their family is providing whatever support they can to put off that moment. Neither of them want to go into a care home, seeing it as virtual abandonment by their children. In practice though there are limits to what can be done, but I know neither of them will go willingly.
And then there’s the cost … I know you mentioned that but if the local authority isn’t paying the financial strain is beyond reasonable. We’ve seen that from both sides, on one hand having to pay the fees (not us personally, but being involved in how the finance would be handled), and on the other, our daughter started her medical career as a carer in the local home – on a wage so low that checkout girl at Sainsburys was a career jump. Quite what goes into the gap in the middle is something we’re still pondering. Also quite what happens when the money runs out (not an issue in our cases) was something that concerned us. I know there’s supposed to be ‘processes’ to deal with this but they only ever seem to work when the media are involved.
So, yes, they fulfil a needed role as we all live longer but become increasingly frail as a result. Don’t rush into one though would be my conclusion. The time will come soon enough.
Freeflyer 5th August 2022 at 9:54 pm
Yes, I agree, it is a conundrum. And like you if I ever thought about it, I’d have said there is no way that I would go into a Care Home unless I developed Dementia or became extremely frail. But part of the problem is our culture which gives people the impression that a Care Home is the very last resort – as you wrote yourself, most people don’t stay long before they die, which means they need constant care. But this does not need to be the case. And, like you, I am disgusted at the casual way Carers who work in these homes are treated – their jobs are extremely difficult and not many want to take on such a task for very little reward. Without them, society would almost certainly collapse.
From what I can make out, there are different degrees of Care required for individuals and one size does not fit all. Our friend, in his late 90s now, has settled in and says he’s much happier because he can still do things like see to his own hygiene, etc., yet doesn’t have to worry about meals as he walks, with the aid of sticks, to the restaurant, and spends time with the other residents. There is a world of difference between his Care Home where people can go for walks in the local town centre with a Carer or family friend, and perhaps a Care Home where people have to be kept in a locked building because they have Dementia and cannot be allowed to roam freely because they may get lost. So perhaps that’s where the stigma comes from that Care Homes are places to be avoided.
I will never, ever, in a million years, put myself on my family and expect them to have me living out my final years with them. And I would be the first one to suggest that perhaps I should move to a Care Home when I feel that I cannot cope alone. As for the cost – it does seem unfair that if you have a nice, tidy sum of money it will soon be eaten up by Care Home fees. But that’s the policy at the moment and I don’t suppose it’s going to change any time soon. We also have to accept that as our population is getting older and needing more care, it’s unfair to expect the taxpayer to pay for this care.
I guess it’s a price you have to pay – as much as I would love to leave my children with any money I still have left, I know they will be the first to say that it would be better for me to at least spend my final years as comfortably as I can.
Financially, should you run out of money (or don’t have it in the first place), then your local authorities will take over and keep paying for you. I believe there is a threshold currently of £23,250 (in England and Northern Ireland) before you have to pay. In Scotland and Wales the threshold is higher.
notahasbeen 5th August 2022 at 11:05 pm
No, never, not a chance, A) I can’t think of a worse place to be B) I am not having a care home take what will be my children’s inheritance.
I have experience of my mother being in one. It would be a fate far worse than death to me and so I have plans to make sure it doesn’t happen and that doesn’t mean I’m going to be looked after by my children. I won’t be able to discuss it further as the memory is still too raw. I just wanted to show another point of view.
Moondaisy 6th August 2022 at 7:33 am
I like the idea of spending my last years on an all inclusive cruise ship, that’ll do me nicely….
My children have already got their inheritance, so they are set up nicely for life. I’ve taken out a nice hefty life insurance policy and that will secure them for their future.
I just hope I’m not a burden to them when I grow old. Something to ponder, but not yet….
backofbeyond 6th August 2022 at 8:25 am
With the cost of care homes it might be cheaper to spend your last years on an actual cruise ship 🤣.
Freeflyer 7th August 2022 at 7:49 am
In an ideal world, the cruise ships would be full of us oldies. But things can, and do, go wrong. Even a ship’s doctor won’t take on the care of a really frail person so then you’d be asked to leave. And heaven forbid there might be another Covid-style outbreak. My husband refuses to ever go on a Cruise ship again, calling them plague ships. Sad, because it’s always been my dream — sailing around the world month after month.
Hope Full 6th August 2022 at 9:29 am
Sheltered housing complexes can be a suitable alternative nowadays. My Dad found a retirement village with its own bar, restaurant, gym, sauna, bowling Green, activities room, library/ computer suite etc but could also buy the care packages that he needed and meal schemes were available for when he was no longer able to self cater. He owned his property so although he paid a hefty annual maintenance cost for upkeep of communal areas, it was cheaper than his eventual costs of needing a care home.. and we inherited his property when he passed away. I would have been tempted to move in myself as he had a lovely bungalow, but the management changed and cut most of the activities, the restaurant closed during covid, and it lost everything that made it special!
Vixster 6th August 2022 at 3:32 pm
Yes I like the idea of those. I don’t understand why everyone wants to give their money to their children. Let them work for it the same way we did!
notahasbeen 6th August 2022 at 4:28 pm
My sons of 35 and 38 already have extremely well-paid jobs. They don’t need anything from us but there is too much here to fritter it away on overpriced care in an environment which I would hate. In our family we have been handing down property for generations, partly it makes sense and partly it is familial love.
Freeflyer 7th August 2022 at 7:45 am
It’s funny because our feelings do tend to change over the years. Having struggled in the early years of our marriage, I was so happy with the fact that we owned a lovely house which would mean leaving our children a nice package of money when we had gone. This stopped us from selling for many years. But after it became more and more difficult keeping a three-bedroomed house clean and warm, I told my husband I wanted a smaller place. We sold up and bought this nice retirement flat and even had some money left over – which I fear will be worthless within 10 years anyway. So our children won’t get as much as we had one time wanted, but that’s alright. And every one of them have said that we mustn’t skimp on things in order to leave them money. We’re not splurging, and I am sure when we have both gone they will still get something. But this way we are happy and comfortable, and they are happy knowing this. The older I get the more I realise comfort is very important, and if you have the money then having someone doing everything for you is so much better than struggling by yourself. Even if you have carers in they are only allowed to spend a bit of time doing things for you.
I have to say that one of my nieces is thinking of training as a live-in carer. They are cheaper than a Care Home but the job itself can be very tiring. This is one option if you have the money, which definitely isn’t as much as being in a Care Home.
Freeflyer 7th August 2022 at 7:35 am
That is incredibly sad – that the management in your dad’s complex started closing down things. That’s what the extra service charges are supposed to cover. When we bought this retirement flat we now live in, we looked at various different places. There is one here very similar to the one your dad was in but the service charges included a Care package whether you used it or not. As neither my husband nor I need any help yet we felt this was just wasted money.
A lot of the residents here pay for carers to come in daily and it is immensely cheaper than a Care Home. But occasionally even the Carers cannot do everything for someone and that’s when their family are told that a place in the Care Home is the only option.
Sue Devon 7th August 2022 at 10:32 am
My mother went into a Care Home for the last two year of her Dementia journey ( she was what they classify as a wanderer, and no longer safe at home).
Her first care home had very flexible living arrangements, you could mix as much as you preferred or as solitary as you preferred.
This was a non dementia care home and mum was accepted because her behaviour was not unfavourable towards other residents. She was very pliable too so staff were able to care for her in this particular home.
It was only after a number of falls due to dementia wandering that she had to unfortunately move care home to a dementia one.
For me I think Care Homes have a place in some peoples lives, some people live very lonely lives that they find extremely stressful and feel they cannot manage on their own, like some people in the care home my mother was in, who were then much happier with company.
For others being at home and at risk from many things, not just themselves but others too a care home can be a life saver.
I personally have bought a property that should accommodate me to be independent physically until medically unfit to live at home. I would at this point prefer to live independently but accept this might not always be the case.
I prefer for my daughter to oversee the application of my support but not directly provide it.
In terms of financing care, nothing new, those who have been frugal and save will have to pay, but at least you then have a choice of home, when others don’t. Price does not always mean a happier care home, usually higher carer ratios and better facilities.
When money goes below the ‘threshold’ where the LA takes over funding, the LA carries out another Assessment of Needs and will assess if there is a cheaper alternative or you are better to stay where you are, most of the time if the difference isn’t excessive/luxury they will cover the funding rather than a move. They know moving someone can be detrimental to them.
I will nearer the time be visiting and taking an interest in local care homes and LA support policy to make a ‘living will’ update to prepare as best I can should a move be needed.
Don’t forget if paying for your own care you can look at cheaper counties to move to where care is cheaper and may get a better home.
Remember LA funding is usually only for the area you pay your council to.
What I don’t want is my care to be put on my daughter, she has her own career and needs to provide for, looks like she will have it tougher than me, the future looks less certain for their generation.
Really sorry just realises this was a massive post😮
Freeflyer 7th August 2022 at 6:11 pm
You said it much better than I had. I am so glad your mother’s experience was a good one. I hadn’t thought about looking in other counties although of course if you have family it would be good to be in an area easily accessible to them. Not that I would expect my family to visit me much if I was in a Care Home because we all have our own lives to lead. But if I were too far away, they might have a ready excuse to never visit.
I like to think that I am here to stay in my retirement flat until I die, but should I find I need more constant support, I would be happy to consider a Care Home.
Nelle96 7th August 2022 at 1:49 pm
My mum has just died in a care home, spending the last 10 months of her life there. It was absolutely the best thing for her as she needed 24 hr care. She also went from living 3 hours away from me, being housebound and going from one week to the next without seeing anyone to a lively environment with lots of company, 10 minutes from me so that I could visit her every day. For the more able residents there was a full programme of activities including outings to London (from the Midlands), Stratford, the theatre and cinema. If I felt unable to care properly for myself I don’t think I’d have an issue with it.
Terry75 7th August 2022 at 2:05 pm
My mother who is 86 had to go into one earlier this year. She went from being a fit healthy woman into a frail old lady following a fall and broken hip. The home she is in is nice and well staffed but she is slipping into depression due to the loss of her independence and sheer boredom. Unfortunately due to her now, lack of mobility, independent living is impossible and she will see out her days there. Its very sad to see and the “system’ taking her money to pay for it when she had worked and payed taxes until she was 77. Not for me I’d rather take a bullet.
Sue Devon 7th August 2022 at 6:35 pm
One of the most useful exercises we did for mum was to write a living will about how she would prefer to live, what level of support is acceptable and when. What she prefers to wear, hair, make-up, food preferences, alcohol choices, religious requirements, personal care choices, music and tv preferences just to name a few.
This helps guide everyone supporting the person and they appreciate having a say too.
Sue Devon 7th August 2022 at 7:09 pm
Sorry my last post on this subject. This subject has many dynamics and everyone is an individual no matter of their health status.
If you’re planning a ‘private arrangement’ of care please ensure you think of safeguarding, back up for sickness, holidays, family commitments of the carer, if the carer is not available for your loved one in the case of an emergency they may end up admitted to a care home they haven’t chosen, and would need an assessment which can delay care.
Best route is to get the LA to carry out the assessment of need and then source care.
But I have seen many private arrangements flounder and the cared for left in an unsafe environment.