A widespread stigma surrounding care homes is crippling conversations about provision of care in later life and threatening to undermine their value, according to new research from Bupa UK.
The company is calling for families to help tackle this stigma by having earlier ‘care conversations’, after findings from a recent study revealed that more than half of adults in Scotland (57 per cent) associated fear of societal disapproval with choosing to move a loved one into care.
Moreover, the belief that individuals should be providing care themselves is helping to fuel the stigma, with 48 per cent citing feelings of guilt and abandonment as the biggest emotional tolls when considering care options. Sixty four per cent of respondents also said they would rather have an alternative awkward conversation than talk about aged care, underpinned by nearly half (45 per cent) admitting they held an opinion of care homes despite having no recent or first-hand experience of one.
Despite the stigma, 79 per cent believe care homes either would, or could, help address feelings of loneliness among older people and assist with complex requirements such as round-the-clock care, companionship and safety and security.
As a response, Bupa UK has launched a guide for families (CARE) with advice on how to approach and have conversations about planning for care in later life.
Linda Patel, professional adviser, wellbeing & activity, Bupa UK said: “Care homes play a crucial role in providing physical, mental and emotional support to both residents and their families. Britain’s ageing population, coupled with often complex and increasing care requirements means people can’t afford to bury their heads in the sand.
“We are launching our CARE guide to give people information and support, and to drive more awareness among people to have the conversation about future care options, for the benefit of both elderly loved ones and themselves in later life.”