THE number of families inquiring about care homes for their elderly relatives is expected to peak in the coming weeks, according to a new study.
Research by the Carehome.co.uk website has shown that in the past three years there has been a steep increase in the number of people searching for care after the Christmas period.
The analysis compares care homes from across the UK.
It is understood the rise could be because as families gather together over the holidays, they might realise that an elderly relative is no longer able to cope on their own. Alan Patchett, director of Age UK Sunderland, said: “I am not surprised that there is a rise in care home inquiries after Christmas.
“If it means that families are becoming more involved in the life of an older person to ensure that they get good quality care then that is a good thing but families must respect the wishes of the older person and going into a care home is not always the answer.
“However, we do not want to see isolated and lonely older people struggling to fend for themselves at home without any support.”
Since 2010, there has been a growing number of people visiting the site in January.
Last year, it noted almost 400,000 additional visits on top of its normal traffic.
Davina Ludlow, director of the website, said: “Over recent years we have noticed a significant trend during January with a huge rise in the number of people searching for care homes after the Christmas period.
“We feel this increase is a reflection of how family members take positive steps in the new year to assist their relatives.
“Residential care can often feel like a daunting step – but it can save someone from not only the day-to-day tasks which have become difficult, but also from feelings of loneliness and isolation.”
Martin Green, of the English Community Care Association, which represents care homes across the country, said: “This phenomenon often results from the fact that people have been in contact with their relatives over the Christmas period and then they realise that they’re not able to manage because of illness or confusion.
“This is quite difficult to pick up on if you only see the person occasionally, but over the period of Christmas, when people might be together over a week or more, it becomes apparent that their level of functioning is significantly reduced and people realise that their family member might need a care home in order to stay safe.”