Saturday, January 28, 2017

C is for Care - and Crocus

Carers, care home, live-in carer. In one way or another care has cropped up in many of my thoughts and conversations over the last few weeks. If I'd thought about it I suppose I'd have guessed that care homes came into being in about the 1960s. Certainly when I was a child most elderly people who could no longer live alone lived with their families. I grew up in a four-generational home: me, my mother, my grandparents and my great-grandmother. To put your parent in a home was considered the not done thing. You had a responsibility to those who'd brought you up.

Today care homes are looked upon much more favourably - although possibly not by the elderly - and caring for your parent at home is much less common. I suppose it's partly because generations no longer live close to one another and to take someone out of a locality that is familiar to him could cause unnecessary grief. And we live fuller lives for longer with outside interests. My grandmother cleaned, washed, shopped, cooked and spent the occasional evening in the local pub. That's all I remember her doing as I was growing up. Her life centred around the family, caring for her mother, her husband, her daughter and her grand-daughter.

For her to have put her mother in a home would have been unthinkable. In those days the only care homes were run by local authorities and although the emphasis had changed from the old work-house designation as a 'receptacle for the helpless poor' to cater for the care of the sick and elderly, many of the homes were located in old work-house buildings.

But by the end of the twentieth century 85% of care homes were privately run. Today some are purely residential, some are  nursing and some provide a variety of care packages depending on the changing need of the guest.

In Wales local authority financial support towards care in a home is means tested; support for home care isn't. In 1990 the Community Care Act with its policy of deinstitutionalisation was passed, returning physically and mentally disabled to their homes for care. While this was justly criticised in some cases I'm sure that the majority of elderly would rather be cared for in their own homes, surrounded by their own familiar things.

It's almost impossible to go into a care home and not shrink at the sight of roomfuls of elderly sitting and staring into nothingness. That said, care at home isn't always the best: it's not a highly paid job and training for carers only seems to cover basics like how to lift and food hygiene - but not preparation so a carer can be employed who doesn't know how to poach an egg, a true example.

With the increasing ageing population we - meaning those of us in middle-age - perhaps need to be thinking seriously about what our choices or options will be. Studies have shown that communities that value and include the oldest generation are happier places. Maybe all new-build houses, except starter homes, should have to include a granny flat. But that might be too late for us: our daughter has always said she's going to keep us in the shed.

On a lighter note, here's the first Crocus of Spring in our garden. According to the plant almanac the meaning of the crocus is youthful gladness, a good omen for Spring and also what we need to develop as we age if we don't want to be grumpy old burdens!
This is my entry for ABC Wednesday and here's the link to find others. I think. (this is my first time for years and I'm a little confused!)


Pat B said...

Your remarks are interesting. A little over three years ago, we had to place my mother in a nursing home. This wasn't the plan. She lived with us for a years after being diagnosed with late onset Alzheimer's. We even did some remodeling so that she could remain out her days with us. Due to some circumstances that arose (a fall she had outside a doctor's office, a long healing process of a broken arm, and another medical issue, back surgery for myself, etc.) we weren't able to continue caring for her in our home. She has had to be in the nursing home the past three years (fortunately a good one, and one which is within about 40 miles one way, so we can see her several times a week). She is now 100 years old, so with that you probably know I am not getting any younger. When people are able, home care with family members generally is better, but sometimes that isn't the best plan.

Liz Hinds said...

No, indeed, Pat. Sometimes it's just not practical especially with nursing care. Things that are beyond our control. Within 3 days my uncle hated the home he at first wanted to go into. He's now back in his own apartment with a live-in carer who can do what's necessary with support from district nurses.

Melody Steenkamp said...

I am a caretaker of many people.... and I love it.....

Your post proves to me that it is a labour of love with unmeasurable gratitude.

Have a nice ABC-Wednesday / _ Week
♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (abc=w=team)
(want to take a preview at the new url starting round 21 ?

SmitoniusAndSonata said...

As long as your uncle remains as he is, live-in care seems much the best solution, especially since you live near enough to see how it's going .
I remember when we had our youngest daughter, all our Spanish neighbours congratulated us on now having someone to care for us in our old age . I occasionally remind her of this ...

Roger Owen Green said...

Thanks for sharing. It's good to know how these things operate in other places.


Rose said...

Very thoughtful comments, Liz. My mother was in a care home--or nursing home, as we call it here--for most of the last six months of her life. I hated having her in that situation, but she was a person who never complained and adapted pretty well. There really wasn't any other option as she fell several times, and my dad just couldn't lift her back up anymore. I wish that home health care was supported more, both financially and through training of caregivers, because so many of the elderly would be much happier if they could be in familiar surroundings. I know I have no desire to spend my last days in a nursing home! My son has a room in the basement that they might put me in one day:) But it is right next to their media room with a huge TV and lots of recliners, so it wouldn't be all bad.

nick said...

I guess one reason care homes are now so common is that we're all living so long. In the sixties, you were lucky to live much over 70, so caring for an elderly relative at home wasn't much of a burden. But now people are living to over 100, looking after them for 30 years or so is quite a daunting thought unless you genuinely love caring for other people. My mother is 94 but fortunately only needs minimal care to help her dress, undress, prepare meals etc.