Table of Contents
An increasing number of elderly people in the United Kingdom need support and help with their daily life (Boyer & Schmidle, 2009). Home care is the major way in which the public authorities and private agencies help and support elderly individuals. It is a priority for elderly individuals to live at home independently and safely for many years. In the United Kingdom, 65 years marks the elderly age at which individuals should start acquiring home care services that can enable them to prolong the ability to live safely and independently. The home care system provides opportunities for meaningful activities and conversations, as well as enriches elderly individuals’ lives emotionally, physically, and socially (Martins, 2008). In the United Kingdom, social care services that elderly people receive within the home care system are either privately funded or funded by the public authority (Gale et al., 2003). Studies show that the public authorities abide by the European Convention on Human Rights, which include commission and provision of home care services, as well as monitoring the services. This paper considers the reason the elderly require home care services, discusses living conditions of the elderly under home care services, and the pensions the elderly have.
Why the Elderly Require Home Care Services
The elderly require home care services as the supportive care provided in homes prolong their lives (Rickayzen & Walsh, 2002). Licensed healthcare professionals may provide medical care services for the elderly individuals who have health problems. In addition, home care system constitutes professional caregivers as individuals providing the elderly population with the daily care with the aim of fulfilling the daily living activities (Brodie & Kwan, 2005). Volunteers contribute toward the well-being of old people by providing them with various services to improve the quality of life. Old people are at a high risk of experiencing psychological problems, social problems, and accidents, in their homes. Therefore, professionals and volunteers help old people by providing psychological support, preventing accidents in their homes, assisting with social activities, providing respite opportunities, among other services (Gale et al., 2003).
Improved living standards, regular exercise, better healthcare, and awareness of the significance of a healthy diet have allowed older people to enjoy life into their 80s and 90s (Rickayzen & Walsh, 2002). The frail elderly are extremely vulnerable to accidents around and in their homes. Old individuals over the age of 65 years are at a high risk of suffering severe injuries and high mortality rate. Studies show that in 2009, over 7,400 old people died in England due to accidents of which about 49% were as a result of fall (Boyer & Schmidle, 2009). Most of the accidents among the older age groups involve more females than males because women experience skeletal problems, including osteoporosis. Many of non-fatal or fatal accidents to older men and women are attributed to failing health and frailty. In the United Kingdom, health professionals and volunteers draw attention of old people and family members to unsafe habits and danger spots with the aim of reducing accidents. The risk factors for falling include calcium deficiency, gait disorders, antidepressant medication, a history of previous falls, impaired vision, alcohol use, environmental hazards, female gender, and chronic diseases and disorders, such as heart disease and stroke (Woolf & Åkesson, 2003). Studies show that old people are at a high risk of suffering fire-related accidents. For instance, in 2010, in England, about 143 individuals over 65 years of age died due to fire-related accidents. The high risk of fire-related accidents is attributed to a poor sense of smell, difficulties in mobility, and hampered tolerance of burns and smoke. The major sources of fires at home include candles, heaters, cookers, electric blankets, and coal fires (Martins, 2008).
Old people need psychological support from volunteers and health professionals since they have a risk of suffering from psychological problems concerning dementia and depression (Price, 2008). Dementia refers to the decline in the mental ability of a person, especially people in the old age group. The disorder affects perception, thinking, concentration, memory, and behavior. Some types of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s disease, are degenerative, because they continue to get worse over time (Brodie & Kwan, 2005). Individuals suffering from dementia perform repetitive actions and become restless and easily confused. In addition, patients suffering from dementia become tearful, irritable, and agitated. The frustrations that patients experience leads to the development of depression, disturbed sleep, among other psychological problems. The risk of developing dementia increases with age. Studies show that old people over the age of 85 years have a high risk of developing dementia. The elderly suffering from severe dementia and depression will have problems in making decisions and communicating effectively (Gale et al., 2003). Patients with dementia and other psychological problems require anti-dementia medications and psychological therapies. Mental health professionals use various approaches, which help to engage old people with dementia (Martins, 2008). Patients suffering dementia can make decisions within longer time, and hence, they need a professional, family member, or a volunteer who can speak on their behalf. In the United Kingdom, about 10% of the elderly population has depression symptoms, and about 35% of the elderly population lives within care homes (Boyer & Schmidle, 2009). Therefore, old people require the presence of healthcare professionals who will provide them with psychological support for a quality life.
The elderly require home care services because of the need to access respite care opportunities, which will improve the quality of their daily lives. In the United Kingdom, home care services include the services that enable the elderly to do various activities outside or inside their homes, or night services to help them improve the quality of daily life, such as proper sleep and eating a balanced diet (Newbury & Marley, 2000). Some of the respite opportunities that health care professionals and volunteers offer at home care services include keeping the elderly company, washing and dressing the elderly, preparing meals, and helping the elderly wake up (Martins, 2008). Care workers can also offer social activities, including taking the elderly to the pub, shopping, or cinema (Gale et al., 2003). Therefore, home care services will help the elderly live a healthy life by doing exercises, eating healthy and interacting with other individuals socially.
The Living Conditions of the Elderly under Home Care Services
In most cases, the elderly prefer to stay at their homes because they feel comfortable (Rivlin, 1995). However, the choice of staying at home can only be possible when old people need minor assistance with daily activities from health care professionals or volunteers (Price, 2008). It is natural that people portray eagerness to stay at their homes as they grow older. Old people can make decisions to move from their homes to care facilities upon an emergency with the aim of making adjustments toward dealing with various difficulties (Gale et al., 2003). The qualities of home care services will depend upon the budget and available alternatives of home care services. The European Convention on Human Rights requires caregivers to treat the elderly with respect and dignity. In the United Kingdom, only about 36% of the population of old people aged above 50 years is confident that the elderly receiving care services, including help with being dressed, in care homes or at home, are treated with respect and dignity (Boyer & Schmidle, 2009). The combined care market, such as the local authority-funded organizations, private organizations, and non-governmental organizations, consider the care for the elderly extremely significant. The estimated worth of the care for the elderly is £22.2 billion, which is attributed to non-residential care and residential care. Studies show that about 30% of the elderly use the available local authority-funded social care during their last years of life (Jordan & Hawker, 2006).
In real terms, the spending on the social care of the elderly in England has dropped by about £770 millions from 2010. Between 2013 and 2014, about 371,770 old people in England enjoyed community-based support and care at home (Age UK, 2014). During the same timeframe, about 22,615 old individuals received meals, and 44,015 old individuals received day care services and half of the number obtained the services the previous year. In the United Kingdom, care workers, family members, neighbors, or friends, abuse or neglect about 342,000 old people each year. It has been evident that about 50 old people are abused or neglected in their homes by caregivers every hour (Boyer & Schmidle, 2009). A survey took place in December 2014, which showed that about 3 million old people in Britain feel that they do not receive enough support and help to live comfortably. Therefore, it has been evident that in the United Kingdom, the living conditions of old people under the home care system have been deteriorating as caregivers mistreat them by not observing the European Convention on Human Rights.
In the United Kingdom, the pressures for various structural reforms in the social care and health care systems have been considerable. Analysts believe that both the long-term and short-term care faces major an unavoidable challenges, which require immediate and substantial improvements to enhance the availability of enough funds that will finance home care services for elderly individuals. The long-term care system has faced the prospect of an increase in demand for home care services (Boyer & Schmidle, 2009). As the demand increases, the availability of resources becomes an issue. Therefore, the government faces a problem with the expansion of the residential care capacity with the aim of ensuring that the supply fulfills the demand.
The government of the United Kingdom should monitor the treatment of the elderly population to ensure that they live a comfortable life (Age UK, 2014). In the United Kingdom, care services obtained from the private sector, which comprise not-for-profit and for-profit providers have now dominated the provision of nursing and residential home care for frail older individuals. In addition, local authorities have shed capacity with the aim of supervising the reimbursement of public funds that will help in the provision of the long-term care among elderly individuals with serious health problems (Jordan & Hawker, 2006). It is necessary to supervise the expenditure of public funds to ensure that people on the ground use the funds appropriately and effectively, as well as organize care services for individuals entitled to them (Price, 2008). The government of the United Kingdom ensures that the substantial rise in the proportion of the severely dependent elderly individuals receives intensive support in their homes (Boyer & Schmidle, 2009).
The Pensions for the Elderly
According to Newbury and Marley (2000), about 18% of the total population in the United Kingdom have attained the pensionable age. Most likely the population of individuals, who will have attained the pensionable age, will increase to about 20% within a decade from now. In the United Kingdom, long-term care has been a costly minefield because its cost can be about £100 a day. Family members can be forced to sell parents’ belongings and lifetime’s savings since the home care bill may be extremely high. Old people will receive various types of local and state authority support, including attendance allowance, state pension, NHS funded nursing care, NHS continuing health care, personal care allowance, and personal expense allowance (Age UK, 2014). Old people over 65 years of age, who need help with eating or bathing whether in care centers or at home, may qualify for an attendance allowance, where they will receive a high rate for care. If an old person moves into the care facility that NHS or the local authority has fully funded, the attendance allowance will not continue after 28 days. Currently, the higher rate of the attendance per week is £81.30, and the lower rate is £54.45. In Scotland, care homes do not have the attendance allowance (Age UK, 2014).
In the United Kingdom, old people with a state pension qualify for pension credit as savings credit (Age UK, 2014). Currently, retirement pension per week is £113.10, pension credit per week, and the maximum savings credit is £20.70. Registered nurses provide NHS-funded nursing care to old people living in a care home. The NHS pays for the NHS funded nursing care with varying amounts depending upon the state in which a client resides. For instance, currently, the NHS funded nursing care in England is £110 per week, Scotland is £77 per week, Wales is £138 per week, and Northern Ireland is £100 per week (Age UK, 2014). Old people’s needs should undergo an assessment before deciding if they are eligible for the NHS-funded nursing care. The elderly should obtain the NHS-funded nursing care if they live within a care home registered to offer nursing care. The NHS makes direct payments to care homes to finance their services provided by registered nurses. The NHS continuing health care is another state authority support that helps old people live good-quality life. The state authority support is fully funded for old people suffering from severe illnesses (Age UK, 2014). Clients may obtain the NHS continuing healthcare if their health needs are significantly great. In addition, clients may undergo reassessment for the NHS continuing care in case their health deteriorates (Jordan & Hawker, 2006).
The elderly age group faces a number of problems because their health continues to deteriorate. Old people have a high likelihood of developing physical and mental health problems. In the United Kingdom, it has been evident that old people are vulnerable to facing accidents, such as falls and fire accidents because of their body weaknesses. Because of health problems, old people require home care services, which should improve the quality of their lives. Most of elderly individuals feel comfortable within their homes because they have accustomed to the living conditions (Martins, 2008). Volunteers, professional caregivers, or family members can give care to elderly individuals at home or care home depending on the prevailing conditions. However, studies have revealed that care workers, family members, neighbors, or friends, abuse or neglect old people because they consider the care as very involving and expensive. Therefore, old people under home care services are likely to suffer when their caregivers do not observe the European Convention on Human Rights. It is necessary for caregivers to treat elderly people under their care with dignity and respect. Home care services can be extremely expensive to the extent that clients may not be able to pay. The local and state authority support has been helpful in funding for care services that elderly individuals receive. The elderly population benefits significantly from their retirement pension, pension credit, and savings credit maximum (Age UK, 2014).