COVID-19 has arguably changed our lives forever. Throughout the pandemic, communities have had to adapt and react to a different way of living which some are seeing as ‘the new normal’. As what the future will look like starts becoming clearer, the role of the live-in carer, too, is beginning to evolve.
Paul Reynolds (pictured), co-founder of care provider In Home Care, explores how live-in care fits into the ‘new normal’ and why the support it provides extends to multiple areas.
The World Health Organisation officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic on the 12th of March 2020. Since then, the perception of what we used to consider ‘normal’ has completely changed. For those whose relatives or friends require additional support, the effects of COVID-19 have been felt particularly strongly.
As well as being concerned about whether the care would be able to continue with physical distancing measures, friends and family living far away have had the added worry of who will be there to help if their loved one should experience a fall or if their health declines unexpectedly. Whilst this has been a worry long before COVID-19, lockdown restrictions may have made people reluctant to travel as they would have usually.
Then there is the added worry that the person receiving care is living alone and the emotional repercussions this causes.
The holistic, personal side of live-in care can sometimes be overlooked as the focus is drawn to the physical activities such as assisting with mobility or hygiene. These areas are, of course, essential aspects of a live-in carer’s daily work, but the emotional support and reassurance generated by being a constant presence for the customer is just as important.
And for the loved ones of those at greater risk of a fall, the knowledge that a trained professional is on hand to provide the necessary assistance is undoubtedly a huge comfort.
Falls occur for many reasons, but the primary one is age. Around 30% of people aged 65 or over will experience a fall at least once a year, increasing to 50% in those aged 80 or over. Though most cases do not involve serious injury, falls can result in a loss of confidence, which is where the gentle encouragement of a live-in carer can be a great benefit.
With hospitals under pressure from a backlog of procedures as a result of COVID-19, managing the availability of hospital beds will become more challenging. At the beginning of 2021, as England entered its third national lockdown, COVID-19 patients occupied more than 30 000 hospital beds, resulting in other operations being postponed.
At a time where resources are stretched, and will continue to be so for some time, recovering at home with short-term live-in care may be an ideal solution for both the patient and hospitals, depending on the procedure. The former will be able to return to the comfortable surroundings of their home environment and reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 whilst on the ward, and hospitals can dedicate resources where they are needed.
Furthermore, live-in care packages can be arranged within a short time frame, as little as 48 hours in some instances, meaning that support can be available ready for hospital discharges and convalescence, and a bed can quickly become available.
‘Bed blocking’, as the issue is known as, costs an estimated £900million for NHS England alone. It is thought that around £700 could be saved per bed per night with an early discharge, and the ongoing support afforded by live-in care thereafter reduces the risk of a patient being readmitted. Prevention in this way can also ease the long waiting lists hospitals will be contending with as surgeries begin getting back underway.
Perhaps one of the lasting lessons we can take into the new world is that happiness and social interaction can never be taken for granted again. According to a Mental Health Foundation survey conducted in November 2020, almost half of the UK population (45%) had reported feeling anxious or worried in the course of the previous two weeks. A quarter of people also stated feeling lonely.
The same survey illustrated that seeing family or friends (25% and 16% respectively) would alleviate these feelings of loneliness, and 61% reported that kindness, either from someone or to others, has a positive impact on their mental wellbeing.
Each and every day, a live-in carer demonstrates kindness often without thinking. Though they may see an act of kindness such as making a person’s favourite meal, helping them get to the shops or get onto a video call with loved ones as part of their job, there is no doubt that carers are instrumental in lifting the spirits of the individual in their care.
Though the new world is still in its infancy, those with specific care needs must not be left behind. And for the carers supporting them, their importance cannot be understated.
In Home Care is a domiciliary care agency with one purpose – to provide care and support to the elderly and disabled from the comfort of their own home. The company attributes its growth to its network of domiciliary care franchises in Hampshire, Essex, West Sussex, Surrey, and Hertfordshire, with live-in care services available across England and Wales.