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Finding good care for older relatives

Finding good care for older relatives
This week's storyteller is Andrea Sutcliffe, Chief Executive of the Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE).

At some point we may well need to find carers for our parents in their own homes, or a residential home elsewhere. Andrea talks about her personal experience of care choices for her family and how the SCIE's new web service could help us all choose the right place for our ageing relatives in later life.

Let me tell you about a 93 year-old woman living alone in the north east of England.

She had a hard life. Born at the start of the First World War, she lost her father in one of the last battles in 1918. She grew up and lived in the East End of London, surviving the Great Depression and then the Blitz. She nursed both her husbands in the final stages of their lives. She never had a lot of money but she loved her dancing, crosswords and action movies.

As she got older, she became frailer and less capable of looking after herself, but the last thing she wanted was to end up in a nursing home. She moved to Housing Association supported accommodation and as a result of the combined efforts of her GP, the local health service and social services - and the huge contribution of her youngest daughter as her primary carer - she was able to stay in her own home, with her own front door. When she died, it happened there, surrounded by all her knick-knacks, just as she and her family wanted.

That 93 year-old? She was my gran, and my aunt was her primary carer.

It’s experiences like this one that have inspired me through 30 years of working in health and social care. I firmly believe that the right kind of care can make a massive difference to someone’s life, helping them to live the life they want as independently as possible.

Everyone who comes into contact with the care system, whether because of illness, a disability or as they get older, should receive the highest standard of care possible. It is this belief, and the commitment to making this happen, that gets me out of bed in the morning.

Finding good quality care for parents or older relatives is a challenge most of us will face at some point in our lives. The key is to plan ahead and know what support and services are available.

For someone looking for care for a relative for the first time, knowing where to even begin can be a bit of a minefield. This is why we set up Find Me Good Care, a free online resource which helps people take their first steps towards navigating the care system.

The website was launched at the end of last year, and lists over 30,000 care providers that can be filtered by location or type of care, offering a range of services including:

  • Home or domiciliary care
  • Nursing care
  • Care homes (with or without nursing)
  • Retirement villages
  • Respite care
  • Supported living
  • Meals at home
  • Companion services
  • Short-term and long-term care
  • Specialist care, i.e. for people with dementia or a disability

Find Me Good Care also includes advice and guidance on what to look for and how to pay, and provides a handy comparison tool to help users choose the most suitable service. The website includes some useful information on carers’ rights, in case you need to take a more hands-on approach to looking after your relative.

My own parents are now in their mid-seventies, and are approaching a time when they may need to start thinking about their own care and support for later in life. Although I am the chief executive of a social care charity and “know my stuff”, I also know we sometimes need reassurance that we are helping not making things worse, when we, as children or carers, offer our assistance – and that includes me.

The great thing about websites such as Find Me Good Care and When They Get Older is that they can help us make informed decisions, meaning our parents and relatives can live out their lives in the way that they want.

For more information about all types of adult care go to www.findmegoodcare.co.uk

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