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One family discovered a way to provide support for their loved one by hiring carers to provide companionship, as their mother lives alone.

In the past four years, Mark Hornby and his sister Andrea encountered a common issue among adults with elderly parents. Their mother, Margaret Wallace, who was 79 years old at the time and resided alone in a spacious home near St Albans, was experiencing declining health due to Parkinson’s disease and osteoporosis. As Mark lived almost 50 miles away, most of the responsibility for her care fell on Andrea, who lived in the area. However, as Andrea had a job of her own, it became increasingly difficult for her to balance her mother’s care with her work.

This issue is widespread across the entire country. According to data from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), there are currently 3.4 million individuals in the United Kingdom who are 80 years old or older. Research conducted by Age UK has also revealed that around 4 million people over the age of 65 have a long-term illness or disability that limits their daily functioning. Despite the desire of adult children to assist their parents, the added pressure of balancing these responsibilities with their own full-time jobs or childcare duties can become overwhelming. In fact, a survey conducted by home care provider Home Instead found that 65% of unpaid caregivers struggle with their mental health and 31% feel like they are reaching their breaking point.

After discussing with their mother, Mark and Andrea concluded that hiring professional caregivers was the most suitable option. Due to Margaret’s illnesses, she required specialized care, and Mark was reassured by Home Instead’s initial assessment, which closely aligned with their expectations. This gave them confidence in knowing that they were working with a company that comprehended their specific needs.

The initial setup was successful. The caregivers from Home Instead assisted Margaret with getting up in the morning, getting washed and dressed, and coming downstairs. Throughout the day, they aided her in moving around, and at night they assisted with bathing or showering and preparing for bed. Due to her forgetfulness caused by Parkinson’s, the caregivers were able to remind Margaret of her medication schedule.

Andrea and Margaret.

Some grown-up offspring, such as Mark and Andrea, are concerned about the quality of care their parents will receive from a hired caregiver. Certain care providers only offer brief visits that last 20 or 30 minutes and focus solely on completing essential tasks, with a different caregiver each time.

The services provided by Home Instead prioritize the client’s needs. Each client is thoughtfully paired with a caregiver who shares similar interests, and visits are a minimum of one hour. Home Instead offers varying levels of care, catering to individuals with complex conditions like dementia, neurological disorders, or limited mobility. In numerous instances, Home Instead’s care allows seniors to avoid hospitalization and receive assistance in the comfort of their own home.

Annette Adkins, a carer at Home Instead, praises the company’s efforts in matching clients with suitable care providers. Adkins primarily works with clients in their 80s, some of whom have dementia. She takes care of them with the same level of attentiveness and care as she would her own parents.

Adkins not only helps with tasks like dressing and cooking, but she also provides valuable companionship. She enjoys conversing with her clients and hearing about their diverse life experiences. Adkins customizes her assistance based on the client’s specific needs for that day. For example, if a client is unable to drive, she may take them for a walk or accompany them on a shopping trip. With another client, they share a mutual love for gardening and often visit the garden center together. Despite downsizing to a smaller garden, the client still finds joy in admiring the plants.

Zahra Kelly, another Home Instead carer, says that she carries out a “wide variety” of tasks, which can include helping patients get dressed and bathed, making sure they take medication, managing safety in the home and looking out for patient wellbeing. “Sometimes you go to the pharmacy and collect some medication,” she says. “Some people want companionship and to go shopping together, or have a cup of coffee.” For Kelly, the opportunity to meet new people has been a “journey of self-discovery”.

A woman in her 90s, described as “fascinating”, has been a client of Kelly’s and has taught her the value of life. Recently, she expressed her gratitude to Kelly for becoming her new “best friend” later in life.


After Andrea was diagnosed with cancer, Margaret’s circumstances became more challenging. She found it difficult to manage living in her spacious home and ultimately decided to relocate to a smaller house in St Albans. Home Instead assisted with the moving process, providing extra help that exceeded their contractual obligations, according to Mark.

Unfortunately, earlier in the year, Andrea passed away. The Home Instead team paid their respects at her memorial. Currently, Margaret receives round-the-clock care with a rotation of caregivers every few weeks. Her caregiver assists with daily tasks such as cooking, grocery shopping, and maintaining a clean household. They also provide companionship for Margaret, as her son Mark explains: “My mom lives alone, so having caregivers in the house gives her someone to talk to, which is beneficial for her mental well-being.”

Margaret recently spent time in the hospital and upon her release, a 24-hour caregiver was temporarily joined by a night caregiver for a few days. This additional caregiver stayed awake throughout the night to assist Margaret if she needed to use the restroom or get a drink.

Mark and Margaret have received assistance from Home Instead during a challenging period. Mark expresses his gratitude, stating that the organization has not only supported his mother, but also their entire family. He notes that their services have exceeded expectations listed in promotional materials.

If you are interested in providing essential care to a loved one in their own home, discover how to join the team of Home Instead Care Professionals by visiting homeinstead.co.uk/recruitment.

Source: theguardian.com