Protecting Carers Wellbeing in the Provision of Long Term Care Services

The reality is that most individuals do in fact need long term care in their later years in life. Life expectancy seems to continuously increase along with the needs of the elderly. That being said, it is likely that some of us will be called upon by a loved one or parent to help care for them in their later years. This care can start with a series of very simple tasks such as shopping or taking care of things around the house. It could be washing clothes, cooking dinner, or helping to plan out medications for the week. However, it is also possible that these needs grow to be more intensive. In fact, care can grow to be quite time consuming for carers, especially if they have their own families and households to run. Many carers take on the care of their elderly loved ones without ever truly knowing just how intensive that care may become.

Care may be required over just a short period of time. For example, many carers look after an elderly loved one for just a short time following a discharge from hospital. The patient may only require help for a matter of days or a week. This type of care can fairly easily be provided by most families without too much disruption to their own personal and professional lives. While the care might be fairly intensive, it is most often just for a very short period of time until the patient has regained their independence and strength.

It is when care is required for longer period of time that stress and burden can be placed on the carer and their family. It may even mean that they have to give up work to care full time – hence providing long term care coverage. A carer that takes on this kind of responsibility may find that they are burdened beyond their initial assumption. In fact, the stress of taking care of a loved one can be too much to take on for many carers.

There are some protections in place for carers of long term care patients. Long term care services simply wouldn’t be available without carers to look after patients and therefore, it is important for carers to be protected as well. Nobody can be expected to continuously provide extensive care without taking some kind of a break and therefore there are organisations that can help provide valuable support for carers. There are even some support groups available for carers who are looking to talk with those who are experiencing similar daily strains. For example, Carers UK offers a support group for carers. There are also some internet discussions available for carers. These include Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Dementia UK, and Carers Connect. Talking with others who are experiencing the same things can often give carers just the right level of support.

Research suggests that those who are caring for someone long term are far more likely to suffer from ill health than someone who does not have the responsibilities of being a carer. The stress of caring for someone can often lead to poorer health. Time off may be an hour or two a day or per week. Sometimes, it may even make sense to take a whole week off. During this time off, replacement care or respite care can be arranged to ensure that the patient still receives the services they need.

If respite care is to be provided by the Local Authority they will carry out an assessment on you and your needs as well as the person that receives the long term care services. Local authorities may charge for some community care services. Your Local Authority should be able to provide a list of these charges.

Should you find it difficult to arrange respite care, you may be able to find help at your local carers centre. There, you should be able to find information about local support that could be available. Regardless of how you choose to arrange care, it is important to keep in mind that if you are caring for a loved one, you must also find time to care for yourself. You cannot fully provide the services your loved one needs if you yourself are not operating at your best and highest level. Therefore, it is important to take care of yourself whether through support from those in similar situations or by taking some time off to regroup and take care of yourself. You will be a healthier version of yourself while also being a better carer if you are able to take care of yourself.