Home care planning

How to discuss care needs with your family
Talking about Home Care

Starting the discussion around the need for care can be very difficult and lead to family disagreements both with other family members and the person requiring care.

Talking about Home Care

When to start the conversation?

Are everyday tasks are becoming more difficult? You might be worried for your loved ones safety in the home. You may even be getting ready to bring a loved one home from hospital and want to feel reassured they will be safe and well looked after at home.

The earlier you start talking about the situation and options available, the longer your loved one will have to come to terms with the idea.

Start the conversation early and expect nothing from your first discussion. It may need to be a gradual process, rather than a one-time discussion.

Think about what other family members may say to your suggestions. If they live further away they may not realise what’s happening day to day and not be ready to accept things are changing. Or if they the primary caregiver they maybe upset by your observations?

Do your research

Prepare thoroughly before you have that family conversation.

Look into care options that are available to you so you can understand the differences between care homes and care at home. See our article ‘Care home vs Home care-what is the difference?’ Do a practice run considering how other family conversations have gone previously.

Understand the financial implications of each option and the positive impact of each for your loved one.

Talk with friends or colleagues. Usually you will find someone who has recently been through a similar experience who will be able to provide tips and share positive outcomes. 

How do I start a care conversation?

  • Allow enough time for a proper conversation. Don’t rush it or drop it in at the end of a visit or phone call.


  • Ensure the time and place are right. A significant family event may not be the right time.
  • Try to frame it in a positive light with how the new situation with care would assist and add value to their independence.
  • Ensure it’s a two way conversation where your loved one feels involved and their opinion respected.
  • Allow them time to think, both during the conversation and afterwards.
  • Steer them towards making the decision themselves. They need to see the benefits without feeling pressured.
    • Don’t make every phone call or visit about care, but do bring it up regularly.
    • Avoid talking about care support when your loved one is worrying about something else.

    Always involve the person needing care if possible

    Above all else listen, to understand their concerns and what lies deeper behind the surfacing objections. It could be pride, vulnerability, security or something else at the heart of it. Your loved ones may be confused, scared and feeling overwhelmed.

    They will need reassurance that you will be there to help them. Knowing the root of what you are dealing with will help and enable you to further research or to put forward clear positives.

    Put yourself in your loved ones shoes. How would you feel and think if you were them? 

    How do you respond and move forward?

    Put the conversation in a positive context, talk about how important they are to you and how much you want to support them.

    Discuss exactly what a carer may help with. Do be specific so they can understand where a carer may add value and support. Don’t force the conversation but try and get a commitment to have another discussion at a later date.

    Listen to understand, not to respond. Be sure to give your full attention and listen to other’s point of view.

    Keep an open mind. The converstion may not go to plan but be open to other suggestions. Your loved one and the family may need some time to think and process what you have said.

    Finish on a positive note. If everyone doesn’t agree that’s ok. Focus on the areas you agree on and acknowledge the points you hadn’t considered before.


    What do I actually say?

    Here are a few ideas that may help start the conversation:

    ‘I’ve been thinking about when I’m a bit older and may need some help and where I can go for that?’

    ‘I was wondering if you’ve noticed the same changes in your behaviour that I’ve noticed?’

    Do emphasise the positive impact personalised high-quality care can have on their day to day life.

    • Keeping your independence. Accepting care, especially if it is care at home, can enhance your life enabling you to keep up with hobbies and preserving your independence. Having support with everyday tasks can make your day much more manageable.
    • Having company on a regular basis. Having a chat with a carer can be a breath of fresh air for an elderly person and really brighten their day reducing loneliness. Find out more here about Companionship care.

    Use windows of opportunity and plant seeds

    Plant seeds and let the conversation grow over time. You’ll find it more difficult if you wait for a crisis. Often, when your loved one is already having difficulties, they’re more defensive.

    If your loved one gets a new diagnosis, it’s a great time to review what might be needed. They may realise it’s time to make some changes after a recent fall. Don’t let these “windows of opportunity” pass. See our article ‘How to make your home safer’

    Talk directly about things that may be holding them back. Listen closely and ask questions. They may fear losing their independence. Listen for unspoken clues and don’t contradict them if you can help it.

    If need any more information on care near you, please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.