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Assessing Your Options when a Parent Needs Care


As the second post in our bi-weekly care series, we are looking at how to assess your parents’ needs and subsequently explore options when it comes to care. If you are uncertain over whether your parent is in need of professional care, please click here to read our first post in the series,

 After you and your family have identified the need for care, it’s time to assess the individual needs of your loved one and pinpoint effective solutions. Acknowledging the need for care as early as possible is important as this will maximise the options available. This means recognising that the individual is struggling to manage the day-to-day due to physical and/or mental health limitations.

Arrange a Needs Assessment

In the first instance, we would recommend contacting the social-services department of your parent’s local council to arrange a Needs Assessment. This is free of charge and you will be able to sit in on the assessment to ask any questions you might have.

The council worker will ask questions to find out more about how your parent is managing everyday tasks to ascertain any emotional or physical mobility needs. While it might feel awkward, encourage your parent to provide as much detail as possible in order for the council to make an effective assessment.

If you choose to self-fund then this stage is entirely optional but it can prove valuable in helping everyone involved to understand more about the specific care needs required.

Does your Parent Need to Move to a Care Home?

You will (usually) receive the results of the assessment within a week. This report should offer enough information to help you answer one of the most important care questions – whether your parent can receive care in their own home or they need to move to a residential unit. It’s important to understand the difference between the two main types of care homes– residential homes and nursing homes.

Both options provide accommodation and help with basic personal needs such as washing, dressing and going to the toilet. They also have a social aspect including entertainment and activities to minimise the risk of loneliness and encourage the individual to retain a positive mental mindset.

Nursing homes provide all of the aforementioned services as well as more specialist medical care with registered nurses on duty 24 hours a day to look after those with complex conditions, such as physical disabilities. As a more specialist type of care is needed with nursing homes, the fees tend to be higher.

When symptoms are recognised early on, arrangements can often be made to ensure the individual stays at home as long as possible using the support from live-out carers. This might include accompanying them to medical appointments, helping with meal prep and liaising with healthcare providers.

This is an invaluable support system that helps the individual to retain independence and, crucially, retain the confidence to continue being independent.

The care needs assessment and follow-up support from the local council will help you to find the right type of care. Where residential support is required, you should look at facilities through a long-term lens to ensure that can provide the level of care your parent needs both now and in the future.

Age UK have compiled a comprehensive guide to finding the right care home, which you can click here to access. This considers factors such as the ratio of staff to residents, security arrangements, accessibility, mealtime arrangements and activities.

Paying for Care

Means testing will calculate the amount (if any) that your local authority will pay towards your parent’s care but state funding for long-term social care is extremely limited. Many dependents may also want to make their own contributions towards parents’ care costs to help them access a more comfortable level of care, such as additional hours of in-home care or a larger residential space.

Many elderly people feel so daunted by the cost of care and feeling like a burden that they will delay having essential conversations. This is why it’s important to utilise the services of a qualified professional who will handle the situation effectively and sensitively whilst considering the individual needs of your parent and your family.

Financial advice is crucial when making decisions about care and can be viewed as a key part of inter-generational wealth planning. A qualified adviser will help you and your family to consider all relevant options, such as equity release, a care annuity, or utilising investment income.

The next post in our bi-weekly care series will cover how to help your parent stay in their home as long as possible after identifying the need for care. We will also be exploring questions around whether your parent might need to sell their home to cover the cost of care. For guidance and support with any aspect of later life arrangements, contact our team at VWM today.

Disclaimer: The information contained within this communication does not constitute financial advice and is provided for general information purposes only. No warranty, whether express or implied is given in relation to such information. Vintage Wealth Management or any of its associated representatives shall not be liable for any technical, editorial, typographical or other errors or omissions within the content of this communication.