Most of us don't want to do battle at a time when we feel vulnerable or under stress. Conflicts may arise when arranging help or care for an older person during or after an emergency, when everyone involved is stressed. So how to get what you are entitled to without creating extra difficulties?
If you need care, you are generally entitled to a free professional assessment of your needs by your local council, and either a detailed plan for the services it will provide to meet them, or an explanation of why it will not. If the assessment advises moving to a care home, you have the choice whether to follow this advice. If you do decide to move, you have some choice about the home even if the council is helping pay the fees. Carers are generally entitled to an assessment of their need for help or support, quite independently of the person they care for.
National standards apply to care at home or in a care home, and provide grounds for any complaint about the services you receive.
If you have been assessed by your local council as in need of help or care, you have the right to a financial assessment to determine whether it will help towards the costs. For care at home, you have the right to ask for the council's contribution in cash and arrange the care yourself. If you are unhappy with a local council decision, you have the right to challenge it.
If you are funding your care yourself and consult an independent financial advisor, the service they provide is tightly regulated by the Financial Services Authority, and any complaints you have can ultimately be referred to the Financial Ombudsman Service.
What are your housing options?
If you buy a retirement property you will normally have specific rights spelt out in your Lease in addition to those that apply to all property buyers. In managed retirement complexes, you will usually have additional protection under a Code of Practice adopted by most management organisations in England.
You have the right to apply for housing from your local council regardless of your circumstances, and a right to information on where you stand in priority for an offer. If you are already a council or housing association tenant and want to move, you generally have the right to exchange homes with another tenant but no automatic right to help from your landlord in arranging a move. Renting privately usually offers only limited security of tenure.
There are several elderly housing options you may wish to consider if your home is no longer as suitable for you as it once was. Be open to thinking about moving, but also look into services that might help you 'stay put' successfully. Below we provide links to the four main options when considering housing for the elderly.
Staying put and adapting your home
Most older people wish to stay put, and if this is what you want to do, the challenge is to do it well. Much can be done to make most houses or flats easier to use as you get older, and there are reliable home care services to help organise adaptations or repairs to provide suitable housing for the elderly. A bit of help can be arranged, as can trips out; and an emergency call system could give peace of mind.
Moving to a more suitable property
When thinking about housing options for older people it might be worth considering a new home without stairs, in a more convenient location, in better repair, easier to maintain or without a large garden. There are services to help find housing for the elderly, and others that can help organise housing options for seniors and arrange a move.
Moving to supporting housing
There is a wide range of housing in the UK built specially as housing for the elderly, from local blocks of sheltered accommodation to retirement villages. More and more schemes have care staff discretely at hand.
Moving to a care home For some older people, moving to a care home is a positive choice, for others it is a necessity. Daily chores become a thing of the past, and care and support is always at hand. Many care homes offer excellent service, and there is a wide range of sizes and types.