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Elderly parents

Has anyone used a ‘soft carer’ eg someone for companionship and to change bedding/ cook a meal?

52 replies

Thethingswedoforlove · 11/03/2023 12:06

My dm was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s jn October 2021. She lives with my dad who is her carer but who is starting to struggle. They are both 78. It is clear mum is deteriorating but in the stage where she still thinks she is capable. She couldn’t remember her surname when on the phone to the bank yesterday but still wants to do all the cooking and washing. Her mobility is not so good and dad is very impatient and has always been independent. Anyway I wondered whether I might be able to find someone to come in for a couple of hours most days and take her for a walk, sort out the washing/ change the bedding/ ensure she has something she wants to watch/ cook them a main meal etc. they have money. Is that sort of carer a reasonable thing to look for? Could eg be someone who has kids at school and wants some part time work - even if they couldn’t come during the holidays. What might I name the role if I were to do an advert and how would I take up references and how much should we pay? Any help recommended. I want to make this journey easy as possible for both of them. Dad is really beginning to struggle. I have a fulll tkme job and two teenage kids. I go there for one afternoon a week and do what I can but it isn’t enough. My brother isn’t currently able to help.

OP posts:
Salverus · 11/03/2023 12:07

I think that is a carer ,isn't it?

Salverus · 11/03/2023 12:08

And I'd recommend using an agency so that someone will always come.

MrsBertBibby · 11/03/2023 12:12

We used Home Instead for a lady to come in a couple of times a week for 2 or 3 hours, just to give Dad a break, as Mum couldn't be left alone. It was kind of successful, for a few months (mum lashed out at the poor woman, so that was that).

Mum wouldn't let dad out of her sight so he couldn't just relax at home, he had to sneak out but at least he could get to the barbers, and have some time out from caring.

MrsBertBibby · 11/03/2023 12:14

Our lady didn't do household tasks as Dad was more than capable, and they had a cleaner already, but that could no doubt have been accommodated.

MrsBertBibby · 11/03/2023 12:16

In terms of good food, would they consider Cook frozen meals? They are bloody nice, nothing like the supermarket stuff. It's cooked in small batches with normal ingredients.

pensionconfusion · 11/03/2023 12:17

Definitely use an agency and make sure they have all the correct checks done and training. I would say you are probably looking at around £20ph.

DeborahMeadan · 11/03/2023 12:17

Carer. Or we have Home Help too, same thing really. You can list the duties you outlined here (but don't limit yourself to that). She may need more personal care soon enough.

Thethingswedoforlove · 11/03/2023 12:18

cook is already on the list but mum insists on doing it all including vegetables and it’s just terrifying. I want someone who might be willing to be a bit bespoke I guess. And I’m hoping for one person she can build a relationship with. I will just call it a carer then. That’s helpful. Thank you

OP posts:
Singleandproud · 11/03/2023 12:19

The type of role sounds like a Mother's Help or Nanny almost but for the elderly.

In my area jobs like that are listed as a Personal Assistant, covering companionship, meal prep and light household duties.

Thethingswedoforlove · 11/03/2023 12:22

@Singleandproud yes that’s basically exactly what it is!

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CMOTDibbler · 11/03/2023 12:36

My parents had an independent carer who did exactly that, then slowly did more personal care as time went on. As it was always the same lady they developed a relationship with her (and I also could chat with her and she'd let me know what was going on.
They had a cleaner for proper cleaning, but their cater had time to help them put washing on, check food etc and as she was well connected she found someone to take mum out once a week, a gardener, handyman. She also helped them with reading post and making sense of it.

They'd never have achieved staying at home till dad died without her consistent care. During acute issues when they needed 4 times a day caters they had that too, but it was different carers each time and they had a very limited scope of what they were allowed to do

Hooklander · 11/03/2023 12:37

Singleandproud · 11/03/2023 12:19

The type of role sounds like a Mother's Help or Nanny almost but for the elderly.

In my area jobs like that are listed as a Personal Assistant, covering companionship, meal prep and light household duties.

My area runs a 'PAN' (Personal Assistant Noticeboard) for people both requiring and offering services. Some involve personal care, and some don't.

I've also seen people offering assistance, usually a 'cleaning plus' type of arrangement, on my local Next Door neighbourhood app. Charges tend to start at £12 per hour for cleaning, shopping, light cooking, general help, that kind of thing.

Make sure you take up references, and a recent proof of address. Personally I don't get too hung up on the DBS thing as that's an employer's responsibility to obtain, not the employee's to provide - although having said that some people may have a recent one or a rolling one from a previous position. We have always 'just' gone on references, and thoroughly checked them.

Think about insurance implications. Tbh this is why many people opt for an agency and pay more because all this is taken care of. We chose to speak to our insurance company and pay a bolt-on cost of £5 a month extra to cover it, as we prefer not to use an agency after being messed about. However, you may have a terrific agency in your area, and be happy with that.

Best of luck.

Hooklander · 11/03/2023 12:40

I suppose the term Elders' Help would cover it!

Pinkbananas01 · 11/03/2023 12:40

We also used Home Instead for this type of care initially for MIL, was great as eventually needed visits 4 x day for more nursing care but meant she didn't need to have a change of carers. She had a small team who visited her, perhaps 2 different faces each week but any new carers were introduced to her first by senior team leaders so never an unfamiliar face just turning up.
It meant a big burden was removed from my DH who was her only relative.

LimeJellyforBrains · 11/03/2023 12:44

I worked (via Age UK) as a Home Help for nearly 10 years (absolutely loved it) and would do everything you describe bar cooking a main meal. As far as I remember, Age UK say Home Helpers can prepare 'light meals'. This would include heating up ready-prepared meals. Maybe start by having a chat with Age UK. Everyone is DBS checked and they would usually be able to supply cover visits in case of holiday/sickness. I was required to have Business cover on my car so I was insured to take people out (eg to shops, appointments). I would also second Home Instead as mentioned above, and I think they do more on the cooking side, but they are more expensive than Age UK.

Lots of clients wanted to carry on doing as much as they could while they still could. Sometimes we 'shared' tasks to make this work, eg they would strip the bed and maybe put it in the washing machine, I would make the bed (the ability to wrestle with duvet covers is one of the first things to go!), turn the washing on if they had forgotten how to use the washing machine (common) and deal with getting heavier damp washing out and hanging it up.

One of my last clients was in her 90s but absolutely loved ironing. When possible I would set her up with the ironing board in a low position in front of her chair with some small easy-to-iron items eg tea towels, napkins. This simple thing made her very happy!

I wouldn't describe the role as a Carer as I always assume this includes personal care, which I didn't do as a Home Help. I think Home Instead staff can also cover personal care. Another thing to ask about is whether they will deal with medications if required.

Good luck, and be fussy (within limits) - even with getting help via an agency, some people work harder than others, and some people will 'click' with your mum, or not. You might not find the right person first time.

turtleinthesky · 11/03/2023 12:47

I work for an organisation who helps people employ a Personal Assistant for exactly that kind of support. It has offices in few counties, if you can say which county I can let you know if it's in the right area.

MereDintofPandiculation · 11/03/2023 14:07

wouldn't describe the role as a Carer as I always assume this includes personal care, which I didn't do as a Home Help. Yes, "carer", certainly as defined by local authorities, is confined to "personal care" - help with washing, dressing, toilet, and microwaving a ready meal.

determinedtomakethiswork · 11/03/2023 14:25

My mum who is the same age, would absolutely love to sit ironing all day!

mateysmum · 11/03/2023 14:31

Yes we have exactly this for my MinL who has mild but increasing dementia. She doesn't need personal care but she does need regular support. We use a local independent carer who comes for about an hour and a half 6 days a week. She doesn't clean but does the laundry and washing up and changes the bed. She also makes sure there is a lunch ready and just generally helps MinL with anything she needs from checking emails to making sure MinL is safe whilst having a shower. A lot of it is just companionship. It has worked really well.

Hedjwitch · 11/03/2023 14:47

My mum.has a wonderful personal assistant funded at the moment for 5 hours a week by the local authority. She does about 1.5 hours on Tues,Wed,Thurs and is a godsend! She helps mum.shower and wash her hair, changes the bed( which is often wet) makes breakfast and sits and chats with her. She will take her out for a wee walk once the weather gets better.
We pay for cleaners to come twice a week but the PA does bits and pieces too.

Cats23 · 11/03/2023 14:55

I am a Companion Carer!
I assist with shopping, meal prep, light domestic work, take on walks, food shopping , local events/cafes/medical appointments.
Your local council may have a scheme for independent carers already or there will v.likely be private companion carers in your area already.
Good Luck

hopefullyunrecognisable · 11/03/2023 15:11

With my grandma, a community nurse quietly recommended a lovely local lady who was a cleaner/mother's help and came in for a couple of hours 4 mornings a week to do the cleaning, laundry and cook a proper lunch. It was a much easier sell to 'get in a cleaner' than bring in official carers, although they also joined the fray later on. Of course you need good references/checks if you go down this route for safeguarding.

If I had to advertise your role, I might call it 'part-time housekeeper for elderly couple'.

gogohmm · 11/03/2023 15:16

Yes, dps dm has "cleaners" that do laundry, fetch shopping, cook, change bed linens etc, beyond that of a normal cleaner. One also lived in for 2 weeks when she had a fall. Calling them cleaner's seems to make it psychologically acceptable rather than home helps.

Inextremis · 11/03/2023 15:16

My friend does this for a (self-employed) living - she specialises in people with pets/animals and in addition to helping around the house and garden she'll take her clients out for dog walks, social visits, shopping etc., etc. She has all her DBS checks and H&S stuff.

My mate's in East Sussex but there are probably similar services available in most places - she calls herself a Personal Assistant, so you could add that to your search terms :)

Thethingswedoforlove · 11/03/2023 15:20

@turtleinthesky they are in Surrey

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