Older people, single, having no children, having children, it makes no difference. When a crisis occurs and knowledge about the care sector is needed, the amount of information that people of all ages have is sadly lacking. The result being that when an older member needs care support, the usual situation is that no one knows much about the subject or the practical realities of accessing an appropriate service.
Where and who do you go to for help and information? Social Services both in Social Care and Health are the natural link to information. Many social workers are part time, many have large caseloads and with an increasing number of older people needing care, more social workers are needed. It is a fact that many people seeking information from social services are not given comprehensive information.
The local GP Surgery may offer some local care information but are not usually a resource centre. The emergence of Hubs which contain a range of health professionals and related staff are more likely to be able to offer help and guidance, but these are not nationwide service bases. Depending on where you live, urban or rural, will mean there may or may not be local voluntary organisations that can help and give out helpful information.
Access to the internet can provide a wealth of information. However, knowing where to look, what to look for is not necessarily straightforward. Some telephone helplines are good sources of information, but you have to know who they are and what the number is!
The common phrase ‘You don’t know what you don’t know’ is particularly relevant when seeking practical solutions to a care situation. Why is this?
Unlike trying to persuade people to give up smoking, to exercise, to reduce weight, etc there are no public funded advertisements giving guidance and direction when it comes to the aspects of care for older people. There are no comprehensive, roadmap leaflets in libraries, pharmacies, health centres or resource centres.
Care must be paid for, who pays and who does not, what are the eligibility criteria? Where do you look to find the appropriate care needed? A person needs care, what are their legal rights and who protects them? What questions should you ask a care provider? What should you look for and ask about when visiting a potential care home? What, if any, disability equipment might be needed; what is available and how do I make contact to enquire?
There have been in the past ‘One Stop Shops’ or similar which were information points, but with reducing funding in the sector, these usually had short lives.
What is needed is for a Minister of Aging (akin to the Scottish Minister for Older People and Equalities) to be appointed with specific directions to tackle the problem of an increasing number of older people. Older people and families do have the ability to arrange, procure, ask questions, make decisions about care services but they do need the tools to enable them to do so. This should be a priority, would be cost effective and practical.
Able Community Care offers nationwide Live-in Care Services and we can answer many of your questions about care today. Call us on 01603 764567 or visit our website www.ablecommunitycare.com
Angela Gifford. MD of Able Community Care Ltd