Based on this experience, here are my top 5 recommendations if your loved one needs care:
1) Keep talking! That means you need to talk to family members about what is going on but more importantly, to the person at the centre of the care need. Whether or not they have a form of dementia, talk to them to tell them what's going on. Include them as much as possible and help to ease their fears about the changes.
2) Keep smiling! One of the best and most useful things I have learned is "a smile is universal". It is one of the expressions that human's possess that helps put people at their ease and quickly. As 70% of all communication is NON verbal, you need to make sure that your expression is a positive one. By smiling when entering a care home or prior to talking to a person with dementia, you can immediately put the person at their ease. This can make for a much better, more positive conversation or visit so don't forget to SMILE!
3) Get Organised! You are going to be asked a lot of questions and often, the same questions over and over, as you work through the different agencies involved, Pension Service, NHS, Care Home, Bank, Care Adviser (Yes, we need answers too!). You will need to be organised and have information to hand. Buy two leaver arch files and a set of dividers and get busy! One should be for Property and the other for Health. (This will help a lot with point 4).
4) Get Legal! The agencies mentioned above are unlikely to speak to you unless you have some form of legal authority from the person who needs care. This can be via a Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) of which there are two types. Let me be clear on this.......get BOTH the Property & Affairs AND the Health & Welfare LPA. If you only get one, you can bet it's the other one you'll need! These powers can only be given to you whilst the person has the mental capacity to understand the powers they are giving you. It is always better to get the legal paperwork in place as soon as possible and there is no such thing as too early, so make this step a priority and when you become an attorney, keep good records, as per point 3 above.
5) Start counting! Understanding the finances of the person needing care is a vital point to tackle. Again, make sure you involve the person as much as possible as they will undoubtedly be able to offer valuable insight into their affairs. You will need to know things such as whether they make regular gifts to charities, do they own 100% of their property (sometimes a surviving spouse only owns a percentage of their property, with a relative or trust sharing ownership). Understanding the expenses/purchases that are important to the person is vital, be it a certain talcum powder, brand of whiskey, magazine. (see the earlier blog below "what's my line" for further explanation). These familiar items, tastes, smells, textures really do help with keeping people calm in stressful situations.
Hopefully these pointers will help you begin your care journey. For everything else, you can give us a call!
Liz Faye is the Founder and Head of Care Services at Carepal Assist Limited
for further details go to: www.carepal.org or call on 0800 6891000