WHEN taking care of your elderly parent, sometimes all you need is a bit of help. It might be someone to take dad for his checkup, or help to drain mum’s catheter bag.
Who can you turn to for help? Your extended family or nurses from the hospital? They might not know how to deal with the elderly, nor might they have the time and experience.
Elderly care specialist Aged Care Group (ACG) hopes to help families through its Circles Home Care. The services offered include care concierge and medical escort, home nursing, home care, and home rehabilitation.
Carol Yip, ACG chief executive officer, says that often the first option that families think of to take care of their elderly relative is a maid.
A maid seems like the cheapest option, rather than getting a full-time nurse. Besides, she would be able to do the housework when she is not taking care of the elderly.
However, Yip points out that it is not that cheap to have a maid when you consider her accommodation, food and the agency fees. Plus, hiring a maid sometimes comes with more problems than you bargained for.
More importantly, the maid would not have the skills needed for nursing an elderly back to health and the maid would need detailed instructions. She would not be able to manage the elderly’s medication, offer emotional or mental support and she would not be able to help in the elderly’s rehabilitation as she is not trained to do so.
This is where Circles Home Care comes in. It looks at the elderly’s wellbeing from a holistic point of view, namely physical, mental, emotional, social and financial.
Yip says that if a family or individual is keen, the Circles nurses and/or carers would visit the elderly’s home to perform an assessment – of their health, care needs and environment (potential needs).
“The assessment is done using the (internationally-recognised) Barthel ADL (activities of daily living) Index to find out how dependent the elderly is. This is based on how much help is needed in feeding, bathing, grooming, dressing, toilet use, transferring to and from the bed and chair, mobility, and use of the stairs.
“When we assess, we also look at how elderly-friendly the home is and what might help the elderly.
“The assessment can take up to an hour and the elderly is assessed according to ACG’s five pillars of wellness – physical, mental, emotional, social and financial,” explains Yip.
According to her, the assessment rating would indicate how dependent the elderly person is.
The Barthel Index is a good indicator of where the elderly should live – at home or in a nursing home, and the amount of care assistance needed.
With the assessment, the ACG nurses and carers would be able to advise the elderly person’s family and propose a care plan.
“While doing our assessment, we also educate the family about the elderly’s condition and advise them that if the elderly is moderately dependent, they may soon deteriorate and need more help. So, they would need to be prepared to either get more assistance for their elderly parent or perhaps put them in a nursing home.
“The choice is theirs, we are just there to educate and create awareness. Just because they get an assessment does not mean they have to engage our services. We are there to create awareness,” says Yip.
According to her, sometimes family members are not keen to have their elderly parent assessed as they are not ready to come to terms with their elderly’s health condition and the amount of care needed.
Circles Home Care offers much more than just nursing services.
Its services include:
- Care concierge and medical escort – To take the elderly for their medical check-up and relay what the doctor says to the family; and prepare a care report.
- Home nursing – Help manage the medication; handle wound/bed sores dressing; tube feeding; assist in bowel and bladder care needs.
- Home care – Provide support for ADL, including bathing/sponging, mobility, feeding, dressing, grooming.
- Home rehabilitation – Physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy; services complemented by skilled dietitians to look after any dietary needs as well as a trained psychologist to look after the mental health of the elderly.
According to Yip, the elderly may only need the Circles Home Care carer or nurse to visit them for a few hours daily or just once a week. It need not be for the whole day, nor daily.
“With Circles Home Care, our nurses and carers just go in at a certain time to assist the elderly with whatever care they need. At the same time, we check their blood pressure and do a blood test to ensure their health is either improving or at least, maintained.
“Besides providing care, our nurses and carers will also engage the elderly by talking with them,” says Yip, explaining that the Circles Home Care team speaks English, Malay and a few of the Chinese dialects.
There is no fixed package of services nor a fixed price. The care provided is customised depending on the needs of the elderly and their family.
If the family really needs a nurse or carer to be with the elderly for the whole day, it can be arranged, and chances are you won’t find the nurse or carer watching TV with the elderly the whole day.
The Circles Home Care nurse or carer would be able to take the elderly out for a few hours, go with them for their medical check-up or even go with them for an exercise session, supervised by trained physiotherapists, where they can participate in exercises to strengthen their muscles.
ACG prioritises quality care, as the company wants to ensure the elderly’s holistic wellbeing.
Yip points out that it is risky to engage maids and nurses to take care of elderly family members when you’re not sure of their competency and experience level.
She informs that the Circles Home Care nurses come with years of experience and knowledge, as some of them are retired nurses.
“Home care nursing is critical as you need nurses who know exactly what they are doing because they are not in a hospital environment where there is a lot of support. A nurse going into an elderly’s home, needs to be equipped to handle any situation,” says Yip.
The Circles Home Care is just one of the complementary services that ACG offers. In future, the company will provide more services to enhance the lives of the elderly in Malaysia.
Yip says ACG is interested in establishing relationships, building networks and working with other operators within the community – all for the betterment of the aged care industry.
“ACG wants to elevate aged care to a different level, and in a progressive way, as is being done in other countries, so there is a better standard of care,” says Yip.
The Circles Home Care is available in the Klang Valley. For more information, call (03) 2142-7166 or go to managedcare.com.my.