Care solutions have been continually evolving. Many more quality providers now offer tailored solutions to a wider range of people. Many are often under-serviced, from all ethnicities, genders and sexual identities. Asking for assistance usually ensures independence and does not reduce it, so let us explore the different types of solutions.
Any help or assistance you need will come to your home. Services are typically provided by trained and highly skilled individuals and professionals. Whether it is some or all of your meals, cleaning or assistance in bathing you, the services are broad and may even be specialists.
Over the past twenty years, many services and how we access them have changed. For example, home shopping, food deliveries, and mobile services are now much more readily available and accessible. Now everything we could ever want can be delivered directly to and from the comfort of our own homes. Though many different types of home delivery services are available, specialist services cater to people who may need additional assistance and attention.
Within the daily chores section, there are many services; however, the main categories are:
- Meals – freshly made meals delivered not only to the door but also to the table
- Cleaning – providing frequent services in which a cleaner will visit a person’s home, as well as offering services such as carpet and window cleaning
- Laundry – regularly washing and ironing clothes. Pick-up and drop-off services or laundry services are carried out within a person’s home
- Personal grooming – mobile hairdressers and barbers who will visit your home
- Pet assistance – a range of services that might include cleaning out of cages and taking a dog for a walk
Many of these services are readily available to all; however, given most elderly clients will be vulnerable, additional steps will need to apply. Requirements result in many specialist providers’ stringent vetting and training with any staff they employ.
Some suggested practices
- Technology training – finding out if training is available in your area or even reaching out to LGBTQIA+ organisations who might be able to assist
- Established services – always using services that are well established and ensuring that a transparent escalation process is in place should problems occur
- Research before employing – invest time in researching services, look them up online, ask people you know who may have used them or ask the company to provide references
- Helplines or local authorities when problems occur – if you feel threatened or coerced in any way, contact any one of the many dedicated LGBTQIA+ helplines or contact the police immediately
It is crucial that you feel comfortable and safe in your own home. Please ensure that you look into and carry out research before employing any services. Should the worse situation happen, reach out immediately for help; there are many people in a similar situation as yourself. Around the world are many tailored LGBTQIA+ organisations, made up of staff and volunteers who care and are ready to help you resolve any problems that you might be facing
From general help to more specialist assistance, staff typically will be required to have completed specific training and have a basic level of medical knowledge. However, of the available solutions, many dedicated care providers and services are experienced in helping people find the right type of care, specialist or otherwise.
In addition to personal care, many automatic and intelligent home devices and WIFI enable dispensers are available on the market. Equipment that reminds someone to take their medication, dispensing all the required medicines when needed at the correct time of day.
With all of the various types of medical support a person may need, let us explore several general and widely known needs:
- Monitoring solutions – ranging from cameras designed to monitor and interact with a vulnerable person via the internet to medical alert systems. Ensuring that a person, especially those isolated, are safe and responsive and that emergency services are notified when a medical situation occurs
- Medication – simple pill planning tools for medically trained individuals dispensing daily medicines or injections. In addition, ensuring repeat prescriptions are fulfilled, and drugs are delivered on time
- Live-in Medical Assistance or Carers – using a specialist service to employ a live-in carer or nurse. Using agencies where they are responsible for the assistant. A service where they will recruit and manage the assistant day-to-day. Handling all staffing-related matters, including temporary cover during any planned vacation time or long-term sickness cover
Some suggested practices
- Validating policies – ensuring that any services or companies have a code of conduct or procedures in place that outlines accepted practices, anti-discrimination requirements and the overall treatment of LGBTQIA+ clients
- How any technology will be used – understanding how any technology will be used, how secure it will be and how it will be accessed. Finally, understand who will have access to it, especially when installed within your home. Though most of the technology is designed to ensure older people are monitored and protected, you will need to have the option for privacy; on occasion
- Panic buttons and devices – ensure panic buttons are installed and strategically placed in frequently used areas within your home. In areas such as by the front door, bedrooms, bathrooms etc
- Complaint procedures – ensuring you are made aware of the process for reporting any problems or complaints you may have, especially when it comes to agency staff and that anything reported will be handled quickly and discreetly
- Interviews –agencies will often send staff based on your requirements; you will usually have the option to meet potential candidates before their appointment. You may need to request to meet or interview any individuals scheduled or assigned to you before they start. The meet and greet is essential as you need to ensure that you are both a good fit for one another
Many of these services will be carried out within your home, so you have the right to ensure that you are happy with who is assigned and how they make you feel. Should you feel uncomfortable or unhappy with the way they are treating you. You always have the option to speak to the agency or service provider requesting that an alternative person is provided when administering your care.
Many who travel at peak times or rely on transport workers to get on and off often find it embarrassing and demoralising. At the same time, they are forced to watch other travellers’ frustrations at the situation. However, many countries have updated their infrastructure to be more disabled and elderly-friendly. Sadly, even today, many stations and services are still restrictive and difficult to access unless the person is non-disabled and fit. Though some public and private transportation methods might present problems, others can present opportunities; let us the various options further:
- Driving – in most countries, you can drive well into your later years; however, it depends on the state of your health and eyesight. It is common for many older people to become nervous about driving, especially at night or over long distances
- Buses – depending on the time of day and route, many buses can be busy. Though many are adapted for people with disabilities, those needing assistance may still find it challenging to get on and off. Off-peak travel often being the best and more frequently used period in which older people will use public transport
- Trains / Metros – access to train and metro stations is one of the biggest challenges for people who struggle walking or are disabled. Though the situation is slowly improving, many trains and metros are only accessible via stairs. In Asia, countries such as Singapore and Taiwan have updated their infrastructure to ensure that the entire network is accessible to all
- Taxis / Private Hire – typically one of the most convenient methods of travel where you are not driving yourself. Taxis and private hire vehicles, though convenient, can often be one of the more expensive options. With more taxi companies entering the market using smartphone apps, paying the fare using your bank or credit card is simple, and many offers adapted vehicles that are available to people needing assistance
Some suggest practices:
- Establish if your public transport or private hire company has LGBTQIA+ specific policies in place. If they do, all employees must acknowledge or sign off that they have read and understood the company’s position on the treatment of community members. You can often establish if a policy exists by visiting the company’s website or by calling
- For Private Hire / Taxi Companies – do not be worried about explicitly asking whether they are LGBTQIA+ friendly or have LGBTQIA+ policies in place before booking
- If not asked, write in the booking notes or tell the booking agent your preferred pronouns. State that you want the driver to be made aware and request that your preferred pronouns are used when addressing you
- Do not be afraid to complain – even if the provider does not have a policy or code of conduct, they must still comply with anti-discrimination laws. Note of caution, if you are in a country where they are hostile toward the LGBTQIA+ community or where it is illegal to engage in same-sex relationships, you may need to exercise caution concerning discrimination
Smart homes, security, surveillance and adaptive aids have come a long way in the past ten years. Most of these innovations hugely benefit the elder community because they have become easier to use and operate. In addition, many more well-known companies are entering the smart home and adaptive aid space. These and the new entrants to the market have resulted in many of these products becoming more affordable. Not only that, but they are more mainstream, making them freely available and can be purchased online or from one of the many high street retailers.
Let us explore some of these innovations in more detail and how they can help:
- Virtual assistants – such as Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and any available virtual assistants- offer significant advantages to the elder community. The drop-in facility enables friends and family who might be concerned to dial in and talk without the call having to be answered and to set daily reminders. The virtual assistant can provide daily, even hourly, medication reminders, call family and friends, and even notify emergency services by calling out simple instructions. The assistants are typically easy to set up and use, making them a must-have for many older people
- Smart Homes – linking your virtual assistant to help control your environment. Turning lights on and off controls your home’s temperature and keeps you safe and secure. Nowadays, many devices and functions are WIFI enabled and linked directly to the various virtual assistants. Connecting enabled devices to your assistant means with just a few words, you can close the curtains, check your door camera or turn on the television without having to leave your chair
- Security devices – safety and security are significant concerns for older people, their friends and families. You can scare off any would-be criminals with affordable video intercoms, security cameras, and motion detection devices. Many devices store recordings, typically triggered by motion or someone at your front door. If the unexpected visitor plans to carry out an illegal act or is using intimidation tactics, any video footage recorded can be used with the police in extreme situations
- Accessibility – equipment such as stairlifts, which transport a person up and down the stairs, have been around for many years. Today, there are now many more innovative solutions. Solutions that are not only affordable but can also be eco-friendly. For example, compact lifts use air to transport you between floors to automatic rollers that help wheelchair users navigate ramps without exhausting themselves. There are also many more solutions to get in and out of your home. Whether installing a permanent ramp or using one of the many available adaptive and temporary ramp solutions, all of which all designed to help you get in and out quickly
- Personal aids – from shower seats to grabbers and extenders. Though some of these solutions and aids are simple, they are designed to help people maintain their independence. There are so many great solutions on the market to handle various situations. Commonly found aids are pill organisers and long-handled sponges, inventions that can help you manage your daily life. If you list all of your problem areas or tasks you find challenging, you will likely discover products and aids that can help simply by carrying out some basic research online
Some suggest practices
- Get help (if needed) – using many of the available intelligent devices are typically easy to use; however, setting them up might take some time and might be more of a challenge for some. If you want to use devices, but feel intimated by the setup process, do not be afraid to ask for help. Usual routes include speaking to the company’s technical support, friends, family, or local LGBTQIA+ organisations. Most people would be happy to help. If someone is unable to help, do not give up and ask someone else
- Passwords – Change your devices’ default passwords, making them more difficult and complex. Buy a small notebook or use the notes app, which can be found on a smartphone, to keep a log of all the passwords you have used. When using a book, once you have written the passwords down, store them within your safe or somewhere else that is secure
- Internet – invest in a decent and reliable internet service. Not only does it help your smart-home work effectively, but it can also become a lifeline, especially during an emergency
- Video intercom – at a minimum, invest in a video intercom. Suppose it takes you a while to answer the door, or you worry about answering the door to strangers. In these situations, you can speak using the video intercom to find out who is at the door and tell the visitor you are on your way. If the visitor is not expected, you can inform them that you are not interested without opening the door. These types of devices are a huge deterrent to would-be criminals, offering security as well as video footage, all designed to keep you safe
Finally, do not be afraid of technology. You could see your independence significantly improve by embracing many of the available solutions. Most of the devices and aids available on the market have all been designed to help you with your daily chores, helping to make your life a little easier.
GETTING FROM A TO B
The solutions are typically provided within live-in style facilities, which often cater to your changing wants and needs. The reality is that the older you become, the more help you might need. Most properties within retirement communities or care homes offer a long list of services and facilities. Ultimately, retirement living solutions help you with your long-term care needs.
Adaptive living is about meeting your current and future needs by relocating to communities and facilities where various services, including specialist ones, are widely available. Typically, you will purchase or rent a property, room, apartment or house and pay a regular service fee (weekly, monthly or quarterly). Some available services include an insurance plan to help cover long-term care needs. Thus, purchasing an insurance policy upfront ensures that there are no expensive surprises down the road.
Let us explore some of the adaptive living solutions:
- Village / Community – set over acres of land; typically, they offer apartments and houses for people aged 50 and over. The communities will have common or shared areas and include sports facilities, communal dining and onsite medical assistance
- Apartments / Condominiums – though not always an adaptive solution, typically, within this category, they are made up of retirement apartments or condominiums for people aged 50 or older. The property will usually be offered at a discounted rate, and the residents and property owners will live with others who are similarly aged or more senior than them
- Warden Assisted – properties such as apartments or houses close together or within a cluster. Residing within the area will be one or more supervisors. The supervisors will typically have undergone some basic medical training and will be on call to help the residents with their needs
Some suggested practices:
- LGBTQIA+ policies – ensuring that the provider or complex has a code of conduct or series of policies relating to how staff and other residents treat members of the LGBTQIA+ community
- References – do not be afraid to ask if other LGBTQIA+ members live within the community, even the overall percentage. If there are none, it is more important to visit before purchasing, meeting the other guests to get a feel for the environment
- Pronouns – start as you mean to go on, state your preferred pronouns and correct people whenever they make a mistake. It will most likely be an honest mistake, but it is an excellent practice to follow from the outset
- Additional Charges – ensure that you understand all of the charges, including any extra or other charges for services and conditions you might need in the future. Look closely at the pre-agreed percentage increases for how much the costs will go up each year. Usually, it will be linked to a recognised pricing index such as the Retail Price Index or the rate of inflation. If the rate of the increase is too high, look into it further and speak to a financial adviser to understand your situation and any potential risks
- Clear Ownership – make sure you clearly understand who owns what, what happens when you sell or die, and exit clauses (if any)
Let us explore some of the assisted living solutions:
- Without nursing – a community or complex employs staff to help the residents daily. Assistance may come in the form of daily tasks and chores, such as bathing and administering medication
- With nursing – a community or complex will employ, in addition to the general staff, an onsite nurse and even a doctor to support the community. The nurse or nurses will provide medical support and will be on call to help all of the community residents
Years of persecution and fear have resulted in many LGBTQIA+ people becoming adept at hiding who they are from the world. More open and tolerant societies result in many becoming less afraid and looking to meet and make connections with like-minded individuals. Whether you create friends from within the community or those that identify as straight, socialising and joining groups and activities can be a great way of connecting and networking.
Technological advancements and the affordability of devices mean that even bedbound people can talk to people outside their rooms or home. Whether in-person or via video conferencing, they can make friends, discuss how they feel, and talk about current events. For people living in rural, hostile and isolated environments, technology can be a lifeline. A lifeline allows them to speak to and connect to people from other towns and countries via the internet.
If there are very few LGBTQIA+ activities in your area, find out if others would be interested in a particular event if organised. Often, you will be surprised to find out that people in or close to your local area share similar interests and feel the same way you do. Ultimately, if you are feeling lonely and isolated, reach out. Join in and remember that no matter how old you are, someone is out there waiting to connect.
Care homes can range in size and the services offered, from small care homes with under ten residents to larger homes with well over one hundred residents. However, the average number of residents within a care home is typically twenty individuals. Residents with dementia are a common reason many require dedicated care. It is estimated that well over half of all care home residents suffer from the illness. Depending on the facility, dedicated living can offer a wide range of services, including an onsite doctor or nurse to oversee all residents’ medical needs.
Nearly all care homes offer activities and facilities encouraging residents to socialise and interact. For example, many care homes will host activities such as games, and entertainment events, even arranging for groups to sit down to watch television. Care homes will clearly state the services they offer and their capabilities. The wide range on offer means you can easily find care homes that provide extensive services, all from within the single care home setting.
Some suggested practices:
- Dementia Residents ratio – establishing the number of residents who have dementia. If the home has a high percentage, it is vital to be aware that some residents may struggle to be sensitive to the needs of LGBTQIA+ people. Though it can be upsetting for some, their behaviour is no fault of their own, given their condition. Staff may try to manage the environment and dementia patients; however, it is worth establishing and considering the impact it may have on you
- Do not be afraid to be open – for many older people, telling others about their gender or sexual identity can be challenging. You must be forthcoming, as many facilities are provided in small, intimate communities and homes. If living in a particular home means hiding, who are you? Then it would help if you considered finding an alternative facility, one that is more accepting of you
- Companionship – establish if there are any other LGBTQIA+ residents within the home. Many people within the care settings create close, intimate bonds with the other residents. Even though you may not be looking to develop close relationships, you will still benefit from being around other like-minded people
- Do not be afraid to speak to a staff member or other residents; if you do not feel comfortable or have been mistreated, speak up. If the care facility does not take your complaint seriously, contact an LGBTQIA+ organisation or the local police, especially if it involves mistreatment or where a crime has been committed
The people who provide specialist care will likely have undergone special training or have specific qualifications to work in a given field. The care home and staff will have the experience to handle and manage various situations and conditions to ensure that the residents receive the best care and medical assistance.
Some suggested practices:
- Specific medications – whether HIV medication or hormone replacement therapy, it is essential to discuss your medical needs before making any commitments; if the care provider or service has limited experience, they may agree to participate in training or hire a specialist (if there is more demand), before your arrival
- Oversight – when entering any care facility, it is important to establish who will provide oversight. Family and friends who may need to make decisions on your behalf, as well as make sure you get the care you deserve
- Demonstrate – If seeking specialist medical care, ask the care provider or service to explain how they react to certain situations. It is an effective way of establishing what to expect
- Get the right service for you – if you cannot get the care you need within your local area, look further afield. If cost is a significant consideration, relocating to a place that caters to your needs and which is affordable can be an excellent option to consider
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