A NORTH-EAST company is promising to shake up the care home sector with a new luxury service that stops a home becoming a prison as people get older.

The Darlington-based company, which is run by brothers Gareth and Gavin Nesbit, has many years of experience working in the care industry.

It currently employs more than 200 people working in an area from Darlington to Alnwick.

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Abacus has a long standing relationship with local authorities, many of which already use its home care services. Now that same expertise is set to become available to private clients.

Nearly one-in-five people will be over 65 by 2020 placing greater strain on health services and demand for social care.

Although the effect of an aging population is being off-set somewhat by the fact that older people are healthier than they have ever been, new services will be needed to help older people stay independent for as long as possible and improve their quality of life. . The new scheme offers a wide range of services, from a simple job like walking the dog or posting a letter to more intensive care like sleepovers or a live-in helper.

Abacus charges a flat hourly rate of £12.90 with no hidden payments for weekends, evenings or nights.

For clients with severe needs, Abacus can provide staff up to, and including, a live-in basis.

Official studies acknowledge that living at home extends longevity - and Mr Nesbit said Abacus aims to provide a service that not only adds years to life, but life to years.

"It may be something as simple as taking someone to watch a football match or visit friends," he explained. "But being able to do those sort of things are what makes life worth living. People don't want their home to become a prison as they grow old." For more details of the Abacus Home Care packages available, or to book a home visit, call on 01325 384383.