Offering practical help to the ‘sandwich generation’

Making the right choices can be daunting, says Richard Lloyd
The Which? Elderly Care website gives information on choosing the right care for your relative. Picture: Esme AllenThe Which? Elderly Care website gives information on choosing the right care for your relative. Picture: Esme Allen
The Which? Elderly Care website gives information on choosing the right care for your relative. Picture: Esme Allen

WOULD you feel confident arranging care for your older relatives? Do you even think you would know where to get information on this?

If your answer is no then you’re not alone. Our research has shown that even those who are likely to have to go through the process don’t feel comfortable making the decision.

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The “sandwich generation” are those aged between 40 and 60 who look after both their children and their older relatives. But our research has found that only two in five of this age group feel confident making decisions about arranging care and over four in ten with elderly relatives are worried about having this responsibility.

It’s worrying but understandable that people lack confidence in arranging care for their elderly relatives. They are confronted by a complex set of decisions, which can leave them feeling both daunted and confused and they don’t know where to start or how to go about making the right decision. This is often exacerbated by having little previous experience but needing to act under pressure.

With so many different care and support options for people to consider, including home care, care homes and sheltered housing, this is an extremely difficult decision to make. Although there is already lots of information available to help people through this maze, it’s hard to find, too general and too time-consuming to wade through. A third of those aged 40-60 said they’d struggle to find enough time to arrange care, and half said they don’t have time to make careful and considered decisions about it.

One person arranging care for their father told us: “We struggled with the rules and regulations – and total confusion – of the many authorities who seemed to be involved in Dad’s life.”

A common problem is struggling to find the right information for your circumstances. A third who had researched elderly care said they wasted time looking at information that wasn’t suitable to them or spent too long exploring options that turned out to be unsuitable. Three in ten said it wasn’t easy to find the information they needed.

Without this, people just don’t know where to start. With nearly half of people in Scotland worried about the quality of public services, we believe people need to be supported to access quality information and advice to help them make the right choice.

That’s why we have launched Which? Elderly Care, a free-to-use website to help people understand their choices and offering practical information and advice about arranging care for relatives.

People can answer a short questionnaire to access information that is relevant to their situation and search by postcode for services in their local area. The website contains information on how to choose the type of care that would best suit your relative, what options are available and different ways to organise finance.

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It covers the different types of housing and residential options, such as care homes and sheltered housing, but also advice on helping your relative stay at home through home care and support services, and home adaptions. There are links to local service providers around the UK, and information specific to Scotland on things such as arranging power of attorney.

It also features real-life stories and will direct you to specialist sources of advice such as Carers Scotland, NHS Scotland and Care Information Scotland, explaining what each source can offer you.

We know people often only start to think about arranging care at a critical point, such as after a hospital visit or a fall, which makes it even more stressful. It is therefore vital that it is quick and easy for people to find the information relevant to them.

This is a hugely important decision and people need all the support they can get to help them understand their options and make the best choice for them and their family.

The website is available at

• Richard Lloyd is executive director of Which?