Care Comment


Among many people who actually need help with daily life, there can be an attitude that they can manage.

Recent studies show that by making even small changes, people’s difficulties with daily living activities- including their personal and intimate care- can be reduced by 75%, and their ability to perform those everyday activities without help by 49% (1).


New analysis from the Building Research Establishment (BRE) has indicated that minor home adaptations and improvements to housing can lead to overall savings of at least £500million to the NHS and social care.


The key is to change the way in which delivery of care us approached. The Centre for Ageing Better is just one organisation that is urging the Government, ahead of the green paper on care & support for older people, to be published in the summer, to stimulate innovation.


There have also been calls to weigh up the ‘year of care’ costs, balancing the difference between making an adaptation, spending on some capital equipment that enables someone to undertake daily tasks independently and safely, against the cost of providing care support to assist them.


Innovation can mean changing the mindset, using a different approach and different technologies to solve the problem. It should also balance best value.


Our own cost analyses have proven time and again that, where appropriate, it is physically cheaper to purchase a toilet lifter (the WC equivalent of a riser recliner chair, to help someone get on and off the loo), or even a ‘top of the range’ wash & dry toilet (that enables the person to go to the toilet without having someone wipe them clean) than provide care support for these tasks for even a few months! That’s before taking into account staff provision demands, in that the carer is then available for other duties, nor the psychological benefit to the recipient, in feeling in control, no longer having to ‘manage’.


The BRE’s report substantiates the ROI (return on investment). It has data regarding falls on stairs that maintain those repairs and adaptations can lead to savings of £1.62 for every £1 spent, in a payback of less than eight months.


How many of those falls on stairs occurred because the person was trying to go upstairs to the ‘bathroom’? We go to the toilet on average eight times a day. It obviously depends on how much care workers are being paid, but it doesn’t take long to work out the cost of providing one, or two, carers to take someone to the toilet every day for a year and set that against the cost of the equipment to enable someone to ‘go’ independently.


We wash (bathe, shower) only once a day. We have a meal only three times a day. If you rely on a carer to take you to the toilet, imagine how you would feel, having to wait with a full bladder or bowel.


Many of you would adopt a solution of providing a commode. In our experience talking to customers, they find that undignified, embarrassing. Those feelings impact on someone’ feeling of wellbeing, and can cause mental anguish.


Time and again, the over-riding feedback from people who use a toilet lifter or wash & dry toilet, whether in their own hoe or in a care environment, is about the independence it has given them, the psychological benefit that brings, let alone the improved hygiene! To refer again to the Centre for Ageing Better’s narrative, home aids and adaptations reduce depressive symptoms by 53%.


So is it time we changed our approach, to get better value from the funds, and people we have, and at the same time deliver better solutions for the recipients?, e:; tel 0161 969 1199