Fostering a healthy care environment: collaborating with carers for optimal well-being
When it comes to providing the best possible quality of life for older people and those living with conditions like dementia, professional care goes a long way. But it has the greatest effect when working together with family and friends in an integrated care partnership.
Family support can make a huge difference to an older person’s wellbeing. It helps them feel connected to the world around them, and promotes feelings of love and acceptance, which is especially important as they become more reliant on others for day-to-day care.
An effective integrated care partnership helps ensure that your loved one’s care is truly tailored to them, and can be adapted as their situation and circumstances change in future.
So, how can you work together with your loved one’s carers to create such a partnership?
Establish positive relationships
It can be hard to accept that the time has come for your older relative or friend to receive professional care. If you have been playing a significant role in their support network for a while, it can be tough to trust a stranger with their care.
But try to see professional care workers not as someone coming in to take over, but an additional source of support, for both you and your loved one.
Make an effort to get to know your relative’s carer as soon as possible. Introduce yourself, explain how their care has worked previously, and ask questions about what will happen going forward. This gives you a chance to express any concerns you might have, and also start to build a rapport with the care team.
Recognise the importance of all roles
It’s important to understand from the outset what sort of care is going to be provided for your loved one. Talk to the care team about their specific roles so you are clear on who will do what, and when.
Let the care worker know what role you and other family members have played in your loved one’s care up until that point. Be clear about how involved you’d like to be going forward. Also, be sure to let them know about any relevant family dynamics or complexities.
Maintaining support and involvement is important, but try to recognise when you should step back, and allow the professionals to take the lead.
A good care team will recognise the significance of the older person’s wider network, and work with you to identify positive ways in which you can continue to be involved in their care.
Maintain appropriate communication
Establish your communication preferences with your loved one’s care team. Let them know your preferred method and frequency of communication. They should do their best to make contact in a way that works for you, but do be realistic in your expectations.
Be aware, too, that the carer will have a duty to respect your relative’s right to privacy. While you should receive updates on their wellbeing, there might be things your loved one does not wish to be shared with family members, and you must respect that. The carer should discuss confidentiality with you when they begin the role, and you should feel able to ask any questions you may have around this.
Above all, remember that your loved one and their wellbeing should remain at the centre of all discussion and decision making.