As a dementia & Parkinson’s caregiver, I get an intimate insight into the challenges facing families living with chronic illness, especially later in life. Each day I witness heroic gestures of love, support and kindness between people who have spent a lifetime together.
It’s a genuine pleasure to be able to “step in and help out”, knowing your kindness and support is truly appreciated. For me it’s become increasingly apparent that the care I provide benefits the sufferer, the carer and the family network simultaneously.
It’s made me realise that the combination of health, social and respite care for whole families has got to be the way forward. Taking this holistic approach means that you can tailor the support to meet the needs of everyone requiring help.
If you take an example of an elderly lady living with dementia, cared for by her husband at home with their family living three hours away – it’s easy to identify a care plan for them all.
Firstly there’s the lady with dementia – tailoring a package of person-centred care that improves her health & wellbeing is crucial. This will depend on her “life story” and identifying the “positive memories” that trigger happiness and enjoyment.
Then there’s the need to support her husband who will find caring, no matter how devoted he is to his wife, challenging and stressful at times. A respite care package that provides relaxation and enjoyment for him is crucial – otherwise his health & wellbeing will deteriorate.
Getting this part of the care plan right at an early stage will result in the couple living a healthier, independent life for longer. It will also give the family “piece of mind” that their parents are receiving the right care and support in their local community.
A regular review of the care plan will ensure that any necessary changes can be made, ensuring it continues to deliver the best support for the whole family.
This combined approach to care has got to be the way forward.
Currently we are failing families due to the disparate, disjointed and complex health cares structures currently in place. The real tragedy is that we’re not listening to their cries for help because we don’t have the resources available to help them.
The sooner we accept this failure, the sooner we can start adopting person-centred care strategies that support the growing number of families living with these devastating diseases.
Combined Care Plans have got to be the way forward…..