Radfield Homecare

How to discuss care needs

You may have realised that your father or mother are at a stage where they need support from a care service. Perhaps their appearance is starting to look unkempt, they are becoming confused trying to do simple tasks or they have lost weight and judging by the contents (or lack of) in the fridge, are not eating regular meals. The need for care could be due to a new diagnosis, such as diabetes that requires careful monitoring or it could be that your mother is taking care of your father in the early stages of dementia and she is looking tired and losing weight.

If you have already read the page signs that a parent needs help, you may fear resistance or anger for even trying to broach the subject.

Your parents have dignity and when their children suggest that they need help, it’s a harsh reminder both of their ageing and of their decline. They’re most likely to be afraid.

Most older people want to remain living in their own home as they get older. When care is mentioned, an older person may become fearful that this means a residential care home with many of their belongings and their house being sold, and a loss of control over their life.

Explaining that introducing home care at an early stage helps to maintain independence and living at home for longer, should help to ease their fears.

  • Firstly, and most importantly, is to put yourself in their shoes. Understand that they could be facing deep fears about getting older. Try to get to the bottom of what their concerns are so that you can reassure them and address the issues.
  • Treat them like adults. A role reversal is not going to be easy for a parent when their children take charge. Show respect for their position as your parent and acknowledge that ultimately what they decide for themselves is their choice.
  • Highlight all the positives. Focus on the benefits of having home care, such as someone who can drive them to see friends or take them shopping. Someone to take care of difficult and heavy jobs in the house and someone to chat to for company. By stressing that introducing home care now will help them to stay at home for much longer, should ease their worries.
  • Be factual and remove emotion. Write a list of the reasons why you think they need home care help. Be rational and include any accidents or illnesses they have had – refer to our list of signs that a relative needs help. By tactfully presenting the facts in a clear manner, it could help your parent to face up to the truth.
  • Voice your concerns. Talk about what your fears are and ask them if they might agree to accepting help for your sake or for their grand-children’s sake, but avoid an overload of guilt.
  • Stress that they remain in control at all times. A home care plan is put together for their needs, on their terms and it can be changed at any time.
  • Propose a trial period. If your parents can see that they control the process they are more likely to agree. Start by suggesting a visit from one of our care managers who can answer all their questions and talk them through the process. Once they start care, most of our clients say they wish that they had done it years before.

Bill and Sandra*

One of our clients Bill had been widowed two years previously and had initially coped well, but his personal appearance had started to decline. He was not showering or shaving as often as he used to and his appearance was not his usual smart self.

Bill’s daughter Sandra had a family while also working full time so although she lived locally, she wasn’t able to visit or care for her father as much as she wanted to. As she became increasingly worried about her father, she tried to broach the subject of care but Bill was especially resistant.

After seeking our advice, Sandra gave her father a Radfield information brochure and told him about others in a similar position and their positive experiences from using our service. She suggested a meeting with one of our care managers so he could ask any questions but without any pressure to commit.

At the meeting, our care manager asked about Bill’s previous hobbies and explained how a care service could help him to get out for walks to the river where he used to love to fish regularly. As they talked Bill began to understand how flexible home care is and that it could help to improve his quality of life and independence.

After the meeting and after more discussion and reassurance he could cancel at any time, Bill agreed with Sandra to a four-week trial. He felt that one hour, three times a week, would help relieve some pressure both with the housework and the laundry being done for him. He also agreed to a weekly three-hour visit, so that he could get out for a walk to the river that he loved together with a visit to the riverside pub, to enjoy a beer which he hadn’t been able to do for some time.

After the four-week trial, Bill happily continued with his care service and said that he hadn’t realised that it could be so positive – he thought care was only to help with washing and dressing.

Sandra was relieved to know that her father was accepting help and that he was building a good relationship with the care staff, so that when the time came to increase his level of care there wouldn’t be any more resistance.


Next steps:

  1. What sort of care do I need? – an overview of the different levels of support.
  2. Why should you choose Radfield Home Care? read about why we stand out…
  3. Contact your local office by phone, or using our contact form, here…

*We have changed the names to respect the identity of our client.