With an ageing population, evidence suggests that the demand for social care will also increase, particularly for people who have multiple long-term conditions or dementia. Options for social care support will vary depending on the local authority area, individual financial circumstances, level of support required and personal choice. In the main, local authorities will have a menu of choices including residential care, supported housing and home care. Increasingly councils are promoting care closer to home, and trying to reduce the numbers of people admitted into residential care. Understandably it is also what people want; according to the No Place Like Home report produced by the Live In Care Hub (www.liveincarehub.co.uk) nearly ¾ of people want to stay in their own homes as they get older. Being at home surrounded by loved ones, personal items and memories has shown to have a positive impact on health and wellbeing. In home care and supported housing are two options that allow people to have just that.
What’s the difference?
Like in home care, supported housing is offered to people if they are struggling at home on their own. Supported housing combines housing with support services and can be available as either a standalone flat in a block or group of flats monitored by a warden where you live on your own or a group home where you still have your own ‘front door’ but share living spaces such as the lounge, kitchen and bathroom. Both types of supported housing can have additional care and support included as needed by individuals. In home care, sometimes also referred to as live in care, is where care workers live with you in your own home giving you access to care 24 hours a day. Traditionally supported housing has been the care of choice for people with a learning disability with residential care reserved for older people, however this is changing with supported housing communities for older people increasing, in some areas referred to as extra care housing.
What’s the best option?
In home care allows for the person to maintain their way of living as close to what it was before their health deteriorated. Although supported housing also promotes independence, there is likely to be some upheaval with people having to choose somewhere else to live and then in some cases waiting for that home to become available. Of course, finding a live in carer can also take time, but there is the advantage of still being in the community you are familiar with.
Supported housing is ideal for people that are looking forward to making new friends and having the opportunity to carry out activities together. In home care means you can continue to maintain existing relationships but have at least 1 or 2 extra people in your life (live in carers). In supported housing, carers visits to provide any social care, whilst in home care means the carer is always there. Having a carer available 24/7 can help manage periods of deterioration without significant disruption. It is also of great comfort to loved ones knowing that there is someone there to support should anything happen such as a fall. In supported housing, carers and support workers are assigned on a schedule and are not with the person at all times, although in some schemes, carers are available on site and will visit on request as a person’s needs fluctuate.
Quality of life
Accessing the local community are important considerations for both supported housing and in home care. A live in carer means you can continue to enjoy the same pursuits as previous and even arrange to go on holiday. Being able to go on holiday may not be an option with supported housing as 1-1 support away from the site can prove challenging to co-ordinate, financially and practically. Although if in supported housing, you may be able to arrange to go on holiday with the other people living in the scheme. Going away with a live in carer is helpful as they will be familiar with your support plan and likes and dislikes. That same level of familiarity may not be possible with supported housing where although services do their best to ensure consistency of carer, this is not always possible nor is there the same level of flexibility with timing of care tasks.
For couples, in home care doesn’t compromise relationships, allowing partners to stay together and pets are also still very much welcome. Not all supported housing schemes allow pets, so it may mean having to find a new home for loved animals. Research by the live in care hub found over 18% of respondents believe that those elderly people they knew would, if they were aware of live-in homecare, choose such care to remain with their pet.
All carers undergo significant training, regardless of what setting they support people in. However, it is more likely that if you are looking for carers specially trained in an area, such as dementia or Parkinson’s that you will find it easier to do so with in home care.
It’s not a ‘one size fits all’ decision
Arranging care and support either for one’s own self or loved ones is a difficult choice and it is a similar task when deciding which type of care is better than another. It may be that all care has its place, providing what people and their families need at that point in time, rather than one being better than any other. It is also possible that people will access a number of care options based on where they are in their journey, for example in home care may be the right pathway initially, with supported housing the next step or vice versa. Importantly both supported housing and in home care allow the person to have their own space and if they wish, share some of that with others such as in supported housing. In home care is ideal for people that have high dependency needs and significantly reduced mobility, proving peace of mind whatever the hour.