In home care is designed to help more people than we think, from seniors ageing in place, to their partners, family and carers, and when utilised to its full potential it can have a transformative and positive effect on all those involved.
We all like to think we can do it all ourselves, that we don't need help and nothing can get in our way. It's a great habit of thought. We strive hard to maintain our daily rituals, and for good reason, as they form a crucial part of living long, healthy and independent lives.
Home really is the best place to be. And yet when home rituals become a burden rather than a delight, when the quality of how we live becomes too hard to maintain, this is when in home care can step in and help us uphold our quality of living for longer.
And it's designed for everyone. This is crucial to understand. From seniors needing moderate to intensive help at home with daily chores, to family members who are carers and need extra help or a break from looking after a loved one.
Protecting and maintaining everyone's lifestyle is what in home care is all about, and the sooner it is accessed the more likely everyone will feel the benefits of its help. The secret is knowing when to use it and knowing which type will suit you or a loved one's personal needs.
When it's time to get help
The best time to access in home care is well before things become too hard to do on your own or cause burnout from looking full-time after a loved one. Anticipating the care needs of ourselves and of our loved ones well in advance will help avoid crisis moments that can impact health, comfort and family relationships.
In home care is the perfect option when daily tasks, such as cleaning, cooking and gardening, become too difficult, or more intensive tasks such as bathing, eating, walking and socialising are needed to help you stay at home. They are also a great help for family carers who feel under pressure from their daily obligations and need a break or extra help.
And using these services doesn't have to cramp anyone's style. They are simply there to alleviate stress from the daily grind, and give you and your loved ones time and space to pursue activities that give more value and enjoyment to your life.
For those that are being cared this may mean more time spent with family and friends engaged in hobbies you love to do. For family carers, this can mean more time to have a break, go on a holiday, or look after other family obligations outside of being a carer.
The main thing is that if you can see in home care having a huge and positive impact on everyone involved then you know it's time to act.
Finding in home care
Australia has a wealth of wonderful in home care and community care options that can be accessed at different stages in the care journey.
You can choose between private or public options, depending on your personal choice and circumstances. Both provide a high quality of service, however, there are a few differences that make influence which way you will go.
Private in home care services generally can be accessed faster and may include more personalised or premium services matched to your requirements; however, they do come at an extra cost and may not be an option for some people.
Government in home care is also available and offers a wide range of government-subsidised home and community services including the Home Care Package for basic to low, intermediate and high level care needs; the Commonwealth Home Support Programme for entry-level home support to help you stay at home longer; and, carer support from Centrelink including the Carer's Allowance and Carer's Payment.
To be eligible for any government funded service you will first need to be assessed by an Aged Care Assessment Team. They will come to the home of who is being cared for and do an assessment, discussing things like personal circumstances and the kind of care needed. From this they can give advise on the types of services you can access.
Given that there may be financial implications or contributions you'll need to make regardless of the type of in home care you choose, it may be worth while accessing some aged care financial planning advice so you can understand what options you can afford.
Types of care
Once you determine your personal circumstances, then you can have a look at the diverse range of in home care services offered. These include in home care support services to help with daily tasks around the house, such as cleaning and cooking, to more intensive and personal care support to help with washing, bathing, walking and other activities.
There are also services you can access to help with things like home maintenance and ergonomic adjustments in your home, to community volunteer services that can deliver meals, do social visits, take you or a loved one out for a community activity, such as art or music therapy, and many other great initiatives. All of these options can also be arranged for as little or as long as needed, depending on your personal circumstances.
The advent of online has also opened up people's worlds connecting them to social networks outside the home and helping carers, health professionals and government agencies keep track of the ongoing care requirements and health needs of those they are caring for.
From health apps that tell people when to take their medication to security devices where family members can see what a loved one is up to throughout the day, all these innovations help make it safer and more enjoyable for an elderly person to live at home longer.
In home care benefits
The real benefit of in home care is that it helps everyone.
For an individual whose house is their castle and wants to stay at home for as long as possible, it provides them with the ability to do this and maintain their independence for longer.
For a post operative patient who has just come home, it can help pick up the slack until they are back on their feet and able to get back to normal routines.
For a partner looking after a loved one with dementia, it provides them with some welcome relief from what, at times, can be an all-consuming job where their own needs are neglected.
For family carer, such as a daughter or son, looking after their parents, it can also give them some respite from their care obligation so they can take a break and balance other demands such as work and a family life.
For other family members that can't physically be there to help it allows them to feel that they are looking after the needs of their loved ones in a safe and comprehensive way
And for health professionals and government agencies it helps them extend their duty of care, knowing their patients are going home to are safe and comfortable environment.
The future of in home care
'Love begins by taking care of the closest ones - the ones at home.'
- Mother Teresa
What is now understood is that staying at home has the best impact on longevity and minimising the strain put on the government health system. Given this, services are progressively becoming focused on bringing care to you so you can age in place for as long as possible.
This is an exciting time for the recipients of this care, where maintaining a healthy home becomes central to maintaining a strong healthcare system.
What this means is that services will become more personalised and specialised to meet the unique needs of each person, to ensure higher success rates. It also means that the mentality of those that care for us will shift from a rigid -one size fits- way of thinking to one that is dynamic, fluid and will allow us to customise care, adding necessary services as we go, all from the comfort of our home.
And when you think about it, if we get things right at home, focus on small, single lives and how we can better each and every one, then we are giving the best gift not only to ourselves but to a healthier future for the entire world.
To start creating a shortlist of in home care options that could suit your needs, why not start a care summary now.