by Dr Rekha Elaswarapu, Helping Hands Advisor
Britain is an ageing society. Due to medical advancements and better access to services, including early diagnosis, people are living longer than before. However this also means more people are spending time in hospital due to various illnesses and necessary procedures. Many of these admissions are elective but a large majority are through A&E.
There are very clear guidelines with regards to discharge arrangements and these are carried out in most cases. However, there are cases where these guidelines are not followed, for example anecdotal evidence indicates situations where people have been discharged from hospital on a Friday evening without any support at home. This problem is confounded when the person’s hospital stay is due to stroke or a fall which could alter the person’s ability to live independently.
Many older people live independently and such a hospital episode may render them dependent on others for practical or personal care. Often people discharged from hospital will have to go into sheltered accommodation or a care home, but not everyone would want to follow this course of action.
The impact of losing the ability to live independently can be traumatic. Their life now entails rehab, more medication, visits from several health and social care professionals and not being able to pursue activities that they were able to do before; this can lead to depression and social isolation.
In these situations people need someone who can guide them through this altered life and provide the reassurance that the person needs. Often family members take up the caring role or, if they are already a carer, their responsibility is increased.
Family carers may feel the burden and impact on their own life. There is ample evidence that often carers find themselves tired, worried and resentful at being forced to juggle their own life with their caring responsibilities.
A live-in carer who is well trained in condition specific care can be a valuable alternative which can allow the person to live in their own home with support 24/7. This will also help the family feel at ease as the live-in-carer can provide them with regular updates.
This arrangement also provides the continuity of care for the person as opposed to relying on different drop-in-carers during the day who are often pushed for time and are rushing between the appointments.