There is, says the Social Care Institute for Excellence, a real risk that family carers can reach the tipping point of leaving work, if caring for a loved one becomes too much.
And the hours needed to reach this point are surprisingly, low, for an older employee, says a new report, more than ten hours each week.
The report, Walking the Tightrope, from Age UK and Care UK says that those employees opting to continue care for even five hours a week tend to pass up opportunities for promotion or overtime, adversely affecting retirement income and savings.
But there is an alternative, to this and it is not the usual first considered option of a residential home. The answer is having a carer take on the load. Of course, the carer can be engaged for daily or regular visits, or living in and providing full-time care. Although this option is not available to all, where finances permit it holds many advantages.
The Graham Agency are in the front line of proving such carers for clients and have produced some interesting statistics which show major savings.
In London and the Home Counties, the cost of residential care can be up to ￡1500 per week, an annual cost ￡78,000.
Of course, these costs will continue and probably rise with each year a relative stays in residence. If they are below the local authority threshold for assistance, then the cost or a percentage of it will be re-claimed from their estate, sometimes meaning selling their 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.
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 around ￡670 per week, an annual cost of ￡34,840. That is a difference of ￡43,160, per annum 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 sizeable estate on which to rely. Of course, live-in care costs will also rise, but proportionately and will always be less than residential care.
But for those involved 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.