Receiving care in ones own home is supposed to make life easier - for the person who is receiving the care - and also the family members - if there are any.
Some people are lucky enough to have the financial means to employ carers of their own choice, but most are reliant on Social Services placing contracts with local care companies.
Those on very low incomes will receive that care free - the others will be means tested - and billed accordingly - following a financial assessment.
Hours - or a proportion of - will then be allocated to provide the care that is necessary.
Those with Alzheimers / Dementia should be cared for by professional carers who have received appropriate training. Some care companies provide very good training - others do not - so it is wise to ask this when the assessor from the allocated company makes the first visit to draw up a care plan.
It is all very well to be told to remove bath mats - a tripping hazard - only to find the first carer to walk through the door has not even met anyone with dementia - let alone received any training.
If you have carers coming in to care for your loved one - you need to feel safe leaving them to do just that - be it to walk your dog - visit the dentist - or do the shopping etc.
I have absolutely no wish to frighten anyone - it is your home and your loved one - and you have the right to complain if you are not happy with the service provided. You will not be popular - but care training needs to improve and accepting second best will do nothing to help that.
Care companies have their own rules as to what is allowed and what is not when in someones house - but you are quite entitled to have your own.
There are many very good and highly trained carers out there - but they are in great demand and if lucky enough to get them - it might also be very hard to keep them. Caring is a very poorly paid profession - and the turnover is huge. Some carers last a few weeks - some just a few days - with the result that the best are often placed into emergency situations. Once lost - it is very difficult to get them back.
Although carers are required to fill out record sheets - and these are kept in the persons home - it is a good idea to keep your own records - it can be time consuming but also very valuable. A camera is handy also - should someone have an unexplained ‘bruise’ for example. Photos are also great if they show a good carer in action - as those below do admirably.
The good ones.
When my Jim was ill - during the years we had professional help, we went through 53 carers and 4 care companies - who all had contracts with Social Services.
Of those 53 - about 10 were very good - and 3 were outstanding. These were the ones I retained when we set up a trust and sourced our own carers.
Jim was then extremely well cared for and I felt very safe going out and leaving him. Nothing was too much trouble - they were 100% reliable and did all they could to give him the best possible care. Sadly - he died three months later.
Our Angel Debbie.
Jims last outing.
The not so good and the horror stories
These are just some of the things various carers did - that were not acceptable as far as I was concerned.
Sat watching TV - totally unaware that Jim was trying to climb over a fence at the end of the garden - a neighbour saw him and came to find out what was happening.
Made very good use of my house phone.
Told Jim to shut up when he said he needed the toilet - my newspaper was more important - overheard by another neighbour as the doors were open.
Stole jewellery that was hidden in two different places. Take photos of all valuables.
Totally ignored Jim - and spent the time hoovering and emptying bins that were empty anyway.
A carer upset Jim so much he ripped and screwed up an entire photo album - and when I arrived home, said he had tried to phone me to ask what he should do - He knew I had gone to order flowers for my sisters funeral.
When I arrived home from my sisters funeral - having had 2 different carers who changed shifts - I found Jim had not been given any lunch - and was not wearing his slippers nor his glasses. His regular carers were changed at the last minute !
I had a day out - 5 hours - our Crossroads carer covered the first 2 hours and our regular brilliant carer Debbie was covering the next 3 - she had been on holiday and received a call to cancel her - no reason and no replacement - she ignored it and came anyway.
Refused to let Jim wear his slippers to walk to the bathroom.
One carer regularly gave Jim the cold coffee left over from his breakfast - instead of making him a fresh one.
Arrived very late and left very early - but still logged a full hour - many did this.
Failed to arrive - no reason - no apology - and no care provided at all.
Refused to help Jim out of his chair - with the result he almost tipped over sideways and onto the floor - I had gone out but was not happy and returned early - so saw what was happening - she was shown the door and asked to leave.
A male carer left Jim sitting in the stair lift at the top of the stairs - I had gone to get some shopping and when I arrived home - found him on his mobile - in the garden - he then left the house as his shift had ended - I had to climb over the banisters in order to reach Jim and help him out of the chair. I had told the carer he was not well enough to be moved - he ignored that - but when he had got Jim downstairs and discovered he was also ‘wet’ he sent the chair back up - and had left him there for over an hour.
Used my computer without permission - discovered by a friend who promptly set a password so it could not be accessed.
“Tricks of the Trade” warnings for those that live alone.
These are some of the activities that our carer Paul discovered during his 35 year career as an Alzheimers carer.
Shopping for someone - buying goods on a shopping list and presenting them - but using the ‘buy one get one free’ offers - and keeping the free item.
Using a personal rewards card to collect the points when doing a clients shopping.
Using a clients washing machine for personal laundry - this was discovered when the regular carer was sick - and a relief carer found some flimsy ladies underwear left in the machine that obviously did belong to the elderly lady being cared for.
Carers helping themselves to clients tea bags - sugar - soap powder - fabric conditioner etc - and taking them home.
Using clients aftershave and perfume.
Taking clients out in carers own car - stopping at a petrol station and then persuading the clients to pay for the fuel - even though the carer would have been re-imbursed for costs anyway.
Cooking a client a meal - and them joining them and eating as well - fine is the client has offered - but not acceptable if the client is bedridden for example.
Asking for money for parking costs.
Keeping a clients disabled badge for personal use - and not returning it.
Topping up own gas or electricity key as well as the clients.
Receipts should be asked for proof of all expenditure when a carer has been shopping for a client.
Clients giving a carer a card pin number - never ever do that.
Further information can be found on the following Alzheimers Society fact sheets.
The Carers Breaks Dementia Engagement Service
The Carers Breaks Dementia Engagement Service is a free service that works with people with dementia and their carers. Following a carers’ assessment of need a Community Support Worker works with the person with dementia and their carer for 6-8 weeks to explore activities in the home or local community that the person with dementia can enjoy. The Community Support Worker goes with the person with dementia and their carer to visit activities and help assess their needs and promote a choice of activities.
Following a successful introduction of an activity the service works with the carer and/ or Social Worker to secure funding and provide a phased handover to a suitably skilled and experienced service provider or Personal Assistant. This then provides the carer with a regular break.
The service supports people with dementia and their carers to link with services and activities in the community which can be difficult due to the challenges of their illness or caring role.
Dementia Supper Clubs
The service also offers an opportunity for people with dementia and their carers to get together informally, share experiences and increase their support network through monthly supper clubs held in cafes and pubs. There are currently 6 Dementia Supper Clubs covering Eastbourne/Polegate Hastings/Bexhill
Robertsbridge/ Uckfield Seaford/ Lewes.
For information about the supper clubs please call the team office on 01323 449294 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking after someone
If you are caring for someone with other needs there are lots of services available to support both you and the person you care for ranging from information and advice, support groups, training and access to breaks.
For more information about any of the services available to support carers including the Carers Breaks Dementia Engagement Service call our contact centre: telephone 0345 60 80 191, email email@example.com, visit our website www.eastsussex.gov.uk or contact Care for the Carers on 01323 738390 or visit their website www.cftc.org.uk
Employing someone to help with your care
Carers or personal assistants can help you live independently in your own home. If you decide to appoint one directly, using your own money or with direct payments, there’s a lot to think about.