Spending cuts; the crisis in the NHS, it all makes for depressing reading, especially for someone approaching their twilight years. Consequently, more and more elderly people are planning their own future; a future that depends not on the whim of a relative or the State but on their own independent choices.
Take my mother Gladys, for instance, now sadly deceased. She wanted to enjoy her remaining years at home. I’m glad to say she did just that, writes Malcolm Storer.
It’s one of the most important issues of our time — how, as a society, we care for the elderly and people with disabilities. Sadly, when it comes to this question Britain must hang its head in shame.
So, it’s heartening to hear about a growing number of independent care companies, based in Cheshire, that help facilitate independent living.
And I don’t just mean a quick fifteen-minute visit in the morning. I’m talking about a fully integrated care system that puts the needs of the client first.
One company that specialises in 24-hour live-in care is Knutsford-based Concept Home Care.Rachael and Richard Jones (Pics by Ailsa Bee Photography)
Run by husband and wife team Richard and Rachael Jones, they’ve been operating since 2010.
As Richard explained when I met him at his company’s office on King Street. “We work through Social Services and through people’s relatives who contact us for support for their parents.
Social Services tend to get involved when they’re part-funding the care, so they’ll put it out to tender to different care companies.
If someone’s paying privately then they must source care themselves, or they can ask Age UK to act as a broker, giving them advice and so on.”
Richard has a BA Honours degree in care management and public health. With more than ten years’ experience in the care sector he advises families on the best way forward for their loves ones. “We provide care from an hour a day up to full living care, which involves a caregiver living in the family home.
Having the reassurance of someone close at hand not only benefits the client, but also their relatives.
Not everyone’s relatives live close by, so it’s reassuring that a fully qualified caregiver is looking after their mum or dad on a daily basis, even if it’s just someone to get them up in the morning and help them get washed and dressed.
For instance, we met a client yesterday who’s planning care now for her parents and is also thinking about the care they might need in the future.
She liked the fact that she could come into the office and meet prospective caregivers beforehand. That way the clients can build a relationship first. Some of the larger care companies don’t provide that option.”
With so many horror stories going around these days that’s good to know.
Another agency that goes the extra mile to match clients with the right caregivers is Home Instead Senior Care East Cheshire, based between Chelford and Alderley Edge.Steve and Julie Akroyd.
Set up by Steve and Julie Akroyd in 2007, their mission statement is to provide high quality care and companionship to clients right across Cheshire, enabling them to continue living independently in their own homes.
While Steve takes care of the long-term health of the business, guiding and directing overall financial performance, Julie oversees client services, ensuring that clients are receiving the care they need and that families are happy with the support being provided.
Boasting a Queen’s Award for Enterprise they’re obviously doing something right!
I wanted to see for myself, so I met Julie at the home of one of her clients, an 85 year-old retired doctor from Wilmslow with mobility issues called Anthony. Over a cup of tea, I asked Anthony about the care he’s receiving and the benefits of staying in his own home.
“I have three sessions of care during the day – morning, lunchtime and evening – provided by fully trained staff. In the morning they get me up, give me a shower, dress me and make my breakfast.
At lunchtime they come over and prepare a meal. In the evening I have someone who comes in and does quite a lot of housework, ironing my shirts and so on. They then prepare my dinner and get me ready for bed.
I prefer to be in my own surrounds. It gives me a say as to what goes on, where things are and how they’re organised. That gives me tremendous peace of mind.”
Having mobility issues like Anthony often means elderly people are forced to sell their home and to buy a bungalow or move to a care home.
One solution is having a lift installed. I went to visit a company in Knutsford that does just that. With over 45 years of experience Terry’s Lifts designs and manufactures personal lifts.
I met up with marketing and export director, John McSweeney, at his office on the Longridge Trading Estate to find out more. (Pics via Ailsa Bee Photography)John McSweeney
“We make a range of step lifts that get people in wheelchairs in and out of their property. But the main product we manufacture is through-the-floor home lifts.
Because more and more people are looking at their mobility in later life, one of our catch phrases is ‘Future Proofing the Home.’
The typical type of home lift we do for non-wheelchair users is a two-person compact lift we call the Lifestyle Lift.
It’s either for one person seated or two people standing, with a load capacity of 39 stone or 250kg.John McSweeney explains some of the features of home lifts to Malcolm Storer.
You can either buy one outright or, depending on your financial situation, get a grant. Because there’s no lift shaft you can easily fit one inside a terraced house. It travels between floors where it picks up the floor above through an aperture.
So, for example, when you go to bed at night you can send the lift back down and get the space back. And, of course, all our lifts come with the latest safety features.”
As well as a need for companionship and personal care, a lot of elderly people have other issues to deal with.
One care company based in Wilmslow, alice chilton In-Home Care Services, has specially trained staff that provide support and care for those with dementia, including Alzheimer’s, and respite care.Karen Penny, owner of alice chilton.
Karen Perry, who founded the company in 2014, has first-hand experience of this debilitating disease. “I helped to care from my Grandma Chilton who had dementia.
This was at a time when there wasn’t as much awareness of the disease and little knowledge of the types of strategies that could have helped her stay safely in her own home.
After spending some time living abroad I wanted to start a business in this sector that would help to raise the standards of care.”
Before starting the business, Karen volunteered to work as a companion for Age Concern. The experience gave her a deep understanding of the needs of elderly people. “At alice chilton we understand that, given the choice, most of us want to live independently in our own homes.
We also understand this incredibly important service should be carried out by a team committed to delivering respectful care with kindness and intelligence, which means dignity for our clients.”