Staying at home

If home is where you want to be, it’s essential that you and your carers have as much support as possible. Caring can be hard work, both physically and emotionally. It’s not always easy to ask for help, and many people find it impossible. However, it's important that your carers save enough energy to do the things that only they can do, such as spending time talking to you and supporting you. They can pass on some jobs to other people, where possible.

Your GP, district nurse, specialist nurses and social work services can tell you about other types of help and support. If you need equipment for example, a commode or mattress, then ask your district nurse or social services for advice. You may need to rearrange your home e.g. make a dining room into a bedroom – so that the person can be cared for on the ground floor and doesn't have to cope with stairs.

Care at night may be available in your area. Volunteers from local organisations may be available to sit with you while your carer shops, or they may be able to do the shopping.

You can make an appointment with your GP, district nurse or social worker to talk through what may happen and make a plan for dealing with emergencies which may occur. They may also refer you to other support services.

You need to know how to reach the district nurses or out-of-hours doctor. Ask your general practice for local contact details. If you’re being looked after by any other services, you need to know how to contact them in the middle of the night or at weekends. This should enable you to sort out most problems that occur at home.

Telecare Self-Check online tool

Visit the Telecare Self-Check online tool to find the right support for you in your area. This easy to use online tool allows you to find helpful information on telecare services that could help you live independently at home for longer.

Hospices

A hospice isn't a place: it's a philosophy of care that values each individual and helps them put life into their days rather than days onto their lives. Hospices care for families, not just patients, and their care enhances the quality of life and dignity in death. Hospices respond to personal preferences and needs with dignity, respect and compassion. They deliver high quality, holistic care and they aim to be at the heart of the communities they serve, caring for people affected by death and dying.

Hospices are specialist units which provide care and support for people with illnesses that cannot be cured, including cancer, respiratory and heart conditions and neurological diseases. They are usually run by independent charities (although there are some NHS Hospices) and provide specialist palliative care free of charge to people in their local communities.

Hospice care is provided wherever it is needed, and this may be within the hospice itself but many hospices also support patients in their own homes, in their local NHS hospitals, in care homes and community hospital settings. Care is also extended to families and carers.

Many hospice patients remain at home and are offered a full range of community services and day hospice activities. Hospices usually have inpatient beds providing care to patients who come in for symptom control and are then discharged home. They also provide end of life care.

As well as providing medical and nursing care, hospices offer a range of services including complementary therapy, counselling, and spiritual care. Care does not end when the patient has died and bereavement support is available for families.  

Each hospice has developed independently to meet their local needs and so there is some variation in the specific services they provide. You can find out more about your local hospice from your community nurse or other health professional involved in your care. More information about your nearest hospice can be found on the Help the Hospices website and your local hospice will have its own website.

Care homes

If your needs cannot be met by a care at home service or supported housing, a care home may be a more appropriate way of maintaining and improving your quality of life. In a care home, you will have your support needs met by trained staff whilst in a homely setting.

Care homes can offer residential or nursing care on a short-stay, long-stay or respite basis. They can provide a range of services, including dementia, convalescence, palliative, end of life and mental health care, as well as care for those with disabilities and specialist care for certain conditions. 

Care homes are committed to providing palliative and end of life care, and have invested in training for staff and facilities in order to provide the best possible care. Many care homes have close links with Marie Curie, MacMillan and other specialist palliative care nurses. 

If you have had an assessment of your care needs and a care home is the best place to receive your care, your GP, community nurse or social worker can arrange this for you and help you to choose a home that is right for you. 

All care homes are registered with and inspected by the Care Inspectorate. Lists of local registered residential care homes and details of registered nursing homes are available from your local social work services department. You can also get information about finding a care home, as well as access to care home gradings and inspection reports, on the Care Inspectorate website.

Hospitals

If you have been in and out of hospital over the last few months, you may want to go back to your usual hospital ward when you need full-time nursing care. However, this may be difficult to organise if the ward is very busy.

Many people die in hospital, but a busy medical or surgical ward may not be the most peaceful place. Often you may need to fit into the ward routine, rather than being able to be looked after in the way that you would like. However, most hospitals have access to specialist palliative care services.

Where and how can I be cared for?