The Covid-19 pandemic has shone a spotlight on the UK’s later life care system. Like many essential services, it has come under extreme pressure and is rising to this enormous challenge, but it is a worrying time for those who are in care or need to consider care services for themselves or their family. Financial advisers should be involved in every aspect of later life planning for their clients, including preparedness for professional care, so we spoke to one of the country’s leading care advisors to find out more about the pressures and complexities of the care system during this crisis.
Grace Consulting provide families with bespoke, independent advice on how to find the best possible care solutions for their needs and wishes.
Why is this pandemic putting such a strain on the care system?
As with all key services, the care system is learning ‘as we go’ with this new virus. Care homes have had to close their doors to visitors, which can be distressing for residents and their families, while shielding at home can lead to social isolation. Patients are being discharged from hospital more rapidly than usual and there are staff shortages, due to self isolation and the stress and emotional strain being put on carers. According to LaingBuisson, as of 15 April 2020, an estimated 12% of care home front line staff were unavailable for work. Care facilities are having to rapidly adapt existing practices, causing disruption within homes and agencies. It is a very complex combination of conditions to navigate while prioritising the best interests of the individual.
At Grace Consulting, we are reassured that in most cases our clients with care in place are managing well. When Grace Care Advisers call to check how they are managing, they rarely express concern about the current situation, just gratitude for the dedication of their carers. For example, carers in care homes are making great efforts to take phones to people and to help with tablet video calls (not always with total success!). Some are sending regular photographs to families. Each kind intervention helps to keep families in contact and reduce anxiety.
Is Covid-19 changing the way families discuss care in later life?
These unprecedented times have brought to the fore the benefits of planning for later life. There has inevitably been an increase in the need for rapid decision making where people have been taken urgently to hospital due to sudden illness and where families have been unable to visit due to social distancing and restrictions on movement of people.
Additionally, we have witnessed a more acute focus on mortality across the population. This has brought about an openness to discuss, plan, and increase propensity to engage in conversations about later life care between family and loved ones. We hope that once the pandemic is over, and we can meet up again with our family and loved ones, we will continue to see the benefits of this. Financial advisers and independent care advisers can help facilitate these conversations and make sure that funds are in place to help realise these plans if the time comes.
“The area of later life planning will only increase in interest as there is a huge planning gap around inter-generational (or “wealth transfer”) planning and this therefore presents a big opportunity to access potential beneficiaries through demonstrating sound financial planning and the value of clear, knowledgeable and independent advice. This is why Ingenious in conjunction with other specialists in the area like the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) and independent care consulting firm, Grace Consulting, run educational sessions for advisers to both increase their awareness of the issues across the area and fully understand the opportunity it provides advisers.” (Simon Harryman, Senior Business Development Director at Ingenious.)
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