In her third article for us, Beth Britton draws on her personal experiences of social care services to offer advice on how families and care providers can work together.
I consider myself very fortunate to have experienced social care from the perspective of a family member, and also as a professional training and mentoring social care staff. For me social care is unique â€“ it supports people at their most vulnerable (which we often focus on), but also at some of the most important moments of achievement in their life (which we often focus on less) and it is that humanity that makes it so special.
Of course, where you have humanity you also have complex relationships, and our personal family networks are often the most complex of all. Supporting a loved one who needs care isnâ€™t easy, albeit it can have its amazing moments, and likewise being a care professional trying to support an individual alongside their family requires a diverse skillset.
A question Iâ€™m often asked is how can everyone in this equation work together for the benefit of the person who needs care and support? There isnâ€™t a simple answer, but I hope the following advice may help.
Whatâ€™s important for families?
First and foremost, families want to be able to trust care providers. We want the best for our loved ones, and many family members want to be actively involved in their loved oneâ€™s life.
Continuity of care is particularly important for the formation of positive relationships between a person who needs care, their family and care professionals. For people with life-long conditions, the integration between themselves, their family and care professionals becomes intrinsic to their way of life, and it needs to be as seamless as possible.
For some families, privacy to share time together with minimal involvement from professionals is also important to them, especially at sensitive times like the end of a personâ€™s life.
What can social care providers do to support families better?
Being open, honest and transparent is vital, alongside actively working with family members who want to be involved in their relativeâ€™s care and support, providing the person is happy for that to happen. Involvement can take many forms, from practical everyday care and support to projects involving hobbies, crafts or reminiscence.
There is also immense potential for shared learning. Care providers can support families to learn about conditions and the best care and support practices, and of course families can offer a wealth of knowledge about the person who needs care and support, especially when that person is unable to clearly articulate such information themselves. That knowledge can make a huge difference to the way the person is supported and the outcomes for that individual as a result.
Perhaps most importantly of all though whilst we remain in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is enabling people whose family arenâ€™t living with them to still find ways to connect. Where the person cannot facilitate that themselves, the professional(s) involved in the person life are the link to make that happen, whether thatâ€™s through technology or socially distanced activities when these are permitted.
Live-in care and family relationships
One of the advantages of live-in care is how easy it is for family members who live with the person to be involved in their loved oneâ€™s life. For partners and spouses, live-in care is the obvious choice to ensure a couple remain living together in their home with the support that they need.
Forming meaningful relationships with care professionals takes time and can be difficult, but with the compatibility process that happens when a live-in carer is selected for a client, it is often quicker and easier to form those relationships because there are already similar interests and outlooks between the individuals involved.
Given all of this, would my dad have considered live-in care during his years with dementia. I think perhaps he would have, but it was never suggested as an option for us. As they say, the power of hindsight is a wonderful thing.
About the author:
Beth Britton is an award-winning content creator, consultant, trainer, mentor, campaigner and speaker who is an expert in ageing, health and social care.