Arranging home care over Christmas
How to plan a relaxed festive season for older people and their families
The festive season can be a busy time, and even more so when you’re caring for an older person along with family and work responsibilities. You might be going away, your careworker might be on holidays, or you might be bringing your older loved one to share Christmas with you. Planning ahead with home care can really save Christmas!
Anticipating changes to home-based aged care at Christmas
Bringing families together for the holidays can involve some logistical challenges. When there’s already a care worker in the picture, it’s even more important to plan ahead and keep everyone informed.
Key points for coordinating home care over Christmas:
A family member as primary carer might be taking holidays
When the primary carer of an older person is getting busy or thinking about planning a trip, you might need to arrange other family to help during this time or arrange home care services over Christmas. It’s best to book this well in advance.
Your assigned care worker might change during the holidays
Home care agencies need to manage their staff’s leave and you could have a different person providing support. We recommend you prepare some handover notes to help the new carer to maintain consistent routines.
You might have some of this information if you were issued with a care plan, but it’s best to be prepared with your own handover notes at any time. You can include some special preferences and wishes at Christmas time.
You might invite your older loved one to stay with you for Christmas
You’ll need to know what their care needs are and whether you need to seek home-based care services near you, or whether the care worker can travel. Speak to your loved one first, and also arrange to speak to the service provider. If it’s been some time since you had in-person visits with your older loved one, their care needs may have changed.
I’ve worked with clients where a son or daughter invites an older person to stay over Christmas and then realised the older person can’t shower themselves, or they’re incontinent, or they need help getting in/out of the car, and it’s been a shock for them.
If your loved one is staying with you then make sure you also know what medications they take (and have enough supply and scripts!), any walking aids and other equipment such as a chair for the shower or toilet which may need to come with them.
Its best to be prepared to support their needs.
Home care services may be more limited on public holidays
Essential services such as help with showering/dressing and nursing care for medications will typically continue. Non-essential services such as cleaning or social visits may be at increased cost or not available at all.
Check with the home care service provider/agency before making your holiday plans.
Handing over home care during the festive season
You might need to introduce a new care worker or another family member to help an older person during the holidays.
What should you include in a home care handover?
- Routine is important, so include an older person’s daily schedule, including administering medications, mealtimes and exercise
- Any preferences relating to daily activities for personalised care
- Guidance about using mobility aids around the home or out and about
- Planned medical appointments – don’t let the busyness of holidays cause an older person to put aside their routine doctors’ appointments
- Provide the family’s primary contact and an alternate contact for the busy lead-up to Christmas
- Any religious observance – an older person might attend a local church service
- Instructions for any devices used to set up video calls with family members
You may also need to stock up on medications through Christmas and New Year. Keep them in a cool place over summer!
Add some festive cheer to your Christmas home care plans
Is shopping help included in your home care services? Don’t forget to note what your older person's favourite seasonal treat is when shopping for Christmas supplies. Gingerbread and fruitcake can mean a slice of heaven at morning tea time!
Are the grandkids visiting? Include an order for a few extra treats, craft supplies and decorations.
Some tips for home-based festive activities you might wish to plan for:
- Help an older person to write Christmas cards
- Share special memories of family photos and videos
- Take plenty of photos – bonus points for silly and colourful festive outfits
- Check you’ve charged up any devices for recording/playback
- Music – Frank Sinatra or Dean Martin? A Spotify subscription could be a great gift
- Smells associated with Christmas can activate wonderful memories. Try an essential oil diffuser with pine, clove, cinnamon, nutmeg, orange, peppermint, or ginger.
- Take a drive to see the local Christmas lights around the neighbourhood
- Community connection is important. Look for local social events where seniors transport is included
Home care over Christmas helps everyone enjoy festive fun
While we think of getting home care when we can’t be there ourselves, it’s not just for the times you’re away. Engaging a carer for some extra help during a busy time is practical.
You can welcome some help for your older loved one’s personal care or mobility needs, or to help with the cooking and cleaning for festive feasts, so that you too can spend time with your extended family.
Special family gatherings can be the first time in a while that you’ve seen your parents in person. If you’re worried about your ageing parents at Christmas, consider having a quiet discussion after the festivities. Seek help from a healthcare professional to assess their wellbeing and introduce supports that help older people live well at home.
Need home care over Christmas? We’ve got you covered
Planning for home care over Christmas is important. Booking new home care services and anticipating holidays for a regular carer, can make for a more relaxing Christmas for an older person and their family.
You can reduce stress and maintain a daily routine by preparing a handover for new carers with details of an older person’s needs.
It’s never too soon to talk about care arrangements for the holiday period. If your ageing parents aren’t ready to accept the help you think they need, having some gentle conversations early and talking about home-based aged care options before they’re needed will help them get used to the idea over time.
Finding the right carer can take time and planning ahead gives you peace of mind that home care will be in place when you need it.
We can help you with planning and arranging the best home care support for older people. Start with our Holistic Aged Care Assessment by calling 0404 444 985.