Changes in care reflect that there's no place like home
FRAIL and severely disabled people in Cornwall are able to live in their own homes for much longer than would have been possible in the past.
Independent campaigner Les Bright explains how care services in the community have evolved and can professionally support those with complex health and social care needs.
Les, who campaigns on issues affecting people living in care, said instead of the traditional 'home help' support there is now a more intensive and specialist care being provided in homes by an army of trained and compassionate carers.
Mr Bright said: "Many of us may remember 'home helps' – local people, usually women, who cycled or walked their neighbourhood and made house calls to help with practical tasks, such as cleaning or laundry, too difficult or heavy for older residents to do. But that is no longer the case.
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"Local authorities have revised their policies on who receives the help, and which tasks are important. Now 'home carers', as they are now known, are often supporting very frail, and sometimes, severely disabled people with their most intimate personal care, rather than household chores."
He added: "This change in policy, away from general help to more intensive support to those most in need, means that people whose level of dependency would in the past have meant that they would have to give up their home, family memories and social connections, to move into a care home, can now stay at home for much longer.
"Staff supporting people with complex needs must have a broader range of skills to ensure that they can help people to maintain the best possible quality of life."
Mr Bright said the frequency and intensity of the help people receive varies according to their needs and wishes. He added: "Some people get help every day, possibly several times a day, to help them with routine activities that most of us manage without assistance.
"Getting up, dressed and washed; using the toilet, preparing and eating meals, going out when necessary and getting back into bed safely at the end of the day are typical tasks home carers assist with. Others may need someone to visit their home less frequently, to help with specific tasks.
"The essence of good home care services is the time of a trained and compassionate carer who will put the customer and their needs first, listen to their requests and ensure that they lead as full and rewarding a life as is possible."