Who benefits from making "small changes" to the homes of the elderly? Are such changes for the benefit of the individual, or to the authority responsible for funding the provision of residential care?
The attached article suggests that the benefits go to relieving pressure on the NHS and social care services. It also implies that this would improve pensioners' quality of life. Obviously this cannot be a one size fits all approach. Whilst I accept that keeping the elderly out of the residential care home system would save millions, it is not always the right decision to keep elderly people living at home.
Having gone through this process with a relative, my experience has been that the local authority are keen to keep the person living on their own home. This was despite his poor mobility. Despite him being deaf and unable to use the telephone and despite him having dementia.
We followed the guidance provided and worked with the local authority to install a whole host of apparatus and equipment in his home. However, this could not help the fact that he was house bound and had no regular visitors. Ultimately, these changes were not sufficient to help him when he fell in the middle of the night with no one there to help pick him up.
I do agree that helping elderly people retain their independence by staying at home is important. However, this needs to be carefully weighed up against the practical issues with provision of social care whilst in the home. Quite often the only regular visitors for the elderly who remain living at home are their carers, who will go in at certain times of the day. However, those visits are often no longer than 10 minutes at a time and they are rarely on time due to staffing issues as a result of lack of available budget. The result of this is that in keeping vulnerably elderly people at home, not only could it be unsafe, but it is also very isolating.
Councils should make “small changes” to elderly people’s homes to relieve pressure on NHS and social care and improve pensioners’ quality of life, a new report recommends. Installing handrails, ramps and level-access showers, alongside carrying out simple home repairs for people who are losing mobility, could reduce costs by millions of pounds each year. The report, by the Centre for Ageing Better and the University of West of England, Bristol, shows that difficulties with “activities of daily living” – such as washing, bathing, going to the toilet, dressing and eating – can be reduced by 75 per cent. Home aids and adaptations can also increase people’s ability to perform everyday activities by 49 per cent, and reduce depressive symptoms by 53 per cent.