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“I want to stay in my own home, I don’t want to go into a care home…”

It’s an often heard cry of despair and enough to break your heart, but when an elderly person needs extended and permanent social care – not nursing care – what other options are available to the person or their family members who are looking to do their best for them?

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It is quite wrong that an elderly person should, as they perceive it, lose their independence and dignity by going into full-time residential care.  Of course, for the great majority of care homes, preservation of personal dignity is a prime issue, but it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Until quite recently, many people in this position placed their hopes of financial assistance in keeping aged relatives in their own homes on the much vaunted Personal Care at Home Act, which was initiated by the Labour Party while in government.

However, such hopes were dashed by the coalition government’s decision not to commence the Personal Care at Home Act of 2010, even though it passed through the parliamentary process and became an Act.

So now it is down to the individual to search for more innovative means of providing residential care that will lessen the financial burden.

It is quite true that for most people, the only route considered when social care becomes a necessity for elderly relatives, is residential care.  “With the best will in the world, we simply can’t look after them every minute of the day.”  Today’s pressures of a busy working life just make such options impossibility.

Probably the first step in the process is to consider what type and level of care is needed, residential care or nursing care, with some homes catering for either and some for both levels with appropriate staffing.

Age Concern, offering advice on their website recognises that “most of us want to live independently in our own homes for as long as possible.  As we get older, we may need support and assistance to enable us to do so.”

They say: “This can take the form of personal care, making our home more suitable for our needs or financial assistance from benefits or elsewhere.”

There are local authority assessments to examine individual needs and from there people can explore what assistance is available.

Unfortunately, there seem to be major differences in the way in which local authorities apply the regulations about assets and financing, but for those who wish to read the most updated and accurate information, go to the government website:

www.dh.gov.uk/prod_consum_dh/groups/dh_digitalassets/@dh/@en/@ps/documents/digitalasset/dh_115533.pdf

But what about those whose finances and assets take them out of the assistance criteria?  How do the growing number of middle class elderly ensure the level of comfort and security they need while minimising the costs?

Well, there is a way; stay in your own home and employ a live-in carer.

So how do the costs stack up?  Our research shows that in London and the Home Counties, the cost of residential care can be up to £1,500 per week, and annual cost £78,000.

Of course, these costs will continue and probably rise with each year you stay in residence.  If you are below the local authority threshold for assistance, then the cost or a percentage of it will be re-claimed from your estate, sometimes meaning selling your home or the local authority taking a charge on it and recovering the cost after the owner’s death.  There are, of course, residual savings levels which are protected, but they are often just a fraction of what the estate was worth at the outset, after perhaps 10 – 15 years of care home costs.

So how can you fund the “stay in your home with live in care” option?

There are several means by which this can be achieved:

Firstly, of course, you maybe able to fund the cost out of your own resources, from either savings, income, pensions or life insurance payment following the death of a partner, for instance.

Then there are options available from specialised insurance companies who can offer either a care provision plan for a one-off payment which will give you monthly income, or there is the option of taking out what is effectively a loan with them against the value of your home, while you continue to live in it.

Either way, the dream of being able to stay in your own home while having the security of live-in support can become a reality.

Knowing the relative costs of residential care in London and the Home Counties, how do the costs of employing suitable live-in care staff compare?

One organisation specialising in this geographical area and having considerable experience of supplying live-in care staff for clients is The Graham Agency.

As Mrs Diana Graham, principal of The Graham Agency explains:

“Against the substantial costs of residential care, we can provide a skilled carer with experience of meeting the needs of the elderly at an average cost of £670 per week, an annual cost of £34,840.  That is a difference of £43,160, compared with an approximate annual residential care cost of £78,000.”

“These cost differences are huge and residential care eats into estates at an alarming rate, even for those with a sizable estate on which to rely.”

“But it is the emotional aspect of retained independence and the comfort and psychological security of remaining in one’s own home that is beyond price.”

“We pride ourselves on understanding the unique requirements of each client through personalised contact, discussion and appreciation of their individual circumstances. We recognise the special relationship between clients and their domestic staff, matching not just individual skills and experience, but also acting as both catalyst and link to establish a rapport for mutual benefit.”

The Graham Agency has, for 26 years, been consistently committed to providing the highest standards of personal service to clients and domestic staff candidates.

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