Do you worry that if your Mum had to go into a care home, they wouldn’t understand how she likes to take her tea, wouldn’t realise she has a favourite bed jacket etc? It is often the little things that make the biggest difference when it comes to providing care and support for an elderly person and making sure these things are documented in their care plan will help ensure they are not forgotten and give you peace of mind.
If your elderly relative requires a care service, either in their own home or a care home, the provider is required to make a care plan by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) who are responsible for ensuring national care standards are met. From my personal and professional experience, this often ends up being a list of what a person needs. For example a good night’s sleep and the Why? When? and How? get forgotten. For example, think about how we like to settle for the night? Most of us like our pillows in a certain way, to have a drink and to feel fresh. If we were elderly we may like a reassuring chat before we go to sleep, the closeness of our hand being held, we may like to sleep on a certain side, and to have a hot water bottle to ease the pain in our back. We may prefer a duvet to blankets and so on. I think you get my drift!
Before a care plan can be produced it is important for have an assessment of your relative’s needs to inform their care plan. Local Authorities (LAs) are required to provide a Community Care Assessment for people who are vulnerable by way of age, disability or infirmity, regardless of whether they qualify for social care funding. So if you don’t have an assessment already you need to contact Adult Services at your relative’s LA and ask for one. Make sure you also ask for a written copy! If your relative is being funded by the NHS (Continuing Healthcare) ask the CHC nurse for a copy of their assessment instead.
Person-centred care planning should:
- Enter the elderly person’s world and imaginatively consider the situation from their perspective.
- Include the things that are important to them. This is especially important for people living with dementia, as they may be unable to give detailed information to carers themselves.
- Be produced in partnership with the elderly person or if they lack capacity, with someone who knows and cares about them, such as a partner, relative or friend.
- Be mindful of the way the person is communicated with and give them time. It is important for carers to be sure that the person understands the message and that time is allowed to think through what has been said.
- Provide the person with alternatives from which to choose but not too many, as it will confuse them
Busy care providers usually produce a care plan as part of their admission process or when planning service implementation. They tend to use their own template as a framework, so you will need to make them aware that you want to be included in the process. If the care plan is already in place tell them you would like to personalise your relative’s care and include the things that are important to them. This is exactly what I did for my own mother who is in a care home.
There are many different things that you would want to include for your own elderly loved one’s care plan. This is what I love about people. They are all different. There will be nearly eight billion of us by the end of 2012 and everyone unique with their own genetic make-up. How cool is that!
So keep thinking about your elderly loved one and the things that are important to them. Always keep them involved and at the centre of the planning process and they will have a great personalised care plan to guide their carers. Don’t forget to review it from time to time, as needs and expectations will change.