Working in community aged care for 15 years, I have supported hundreds of families. I have been part of their journey as they have had to make a number of decisions for the care needs of their loved one.
I would visit the client and the family regularly to ensure that the support being provided was what was actually needed. I was the person sitting on the outside, looking in. I watched as the client became frailer, memory declined, body weakened, movement slowed, and carer stress increased.
For most, the care provided from a Home Care Package, would be enough to keep them at home. Home is where they would remain until life became too hard and they needed to go into care; or sadly passed away.
However, for some of the client’s that I worked with and still do, their carer is the one making these important decisions and asking themselves:
- Can I continue to care for them?
- What extra help do I need?
- Can I have them at home to die?
- Should I send them to a nursing home?
- I promised that I would care for them at home, what should I do?
Making a decision to seek extra help to care for someone comes with a bag of emotions. You consider the person you are caring for, family, friends and then yourself. The truth is, you have to put yourself first. Without you, the person you are caring for would not be able to continue to care for themselves. Your help is needed.
As I have said to many families and carers that I have worked with, and to you today, BE PREPARED! Do not start making decisions during a crisis, as you are bound to make the wrong one.
Being in denial about the care situation, ignoring its challenges, and burying your head in the sand, will not make your situation change. The sooner you take action and put a plan in place, the sooner you can stop and know that you have done everything that you possibly can.
When you need to start making these hard decisions about aged care, consider the following steps to pull your thoughts together and give you the guidance that you need:
Step 1: Understand what you want to achieve, what your goal is
Keep in focus what challenge you are trying to overcome and the purpose for your decision. What is important for the person that you are caring for; and for you as their carer? Once you understand for yourself the purpose of your decision this will help you find the support that you need.
Step 2: Pull together the information that is going to help you make the decision needed
When making a good decision, you want to make sure you have researched as much information as you can. We live in a digital world, with information at our fingertips. There is a mass of information available regarding support services in Australia. Some information is produced by the Department of Health; however, most information is produced by not for profit and profit organisations who have a variety of care offerings. Sifting through information can be time consuming and confusing. Services like SereneCare are here to help you unravel the information so it can actually start to make sense. What help is available? How many hours of care and support can you receive? What is the cost of this help? What services can provide what you are looking for?
Step 3: Consider the Outcome
You will need to review the information that you have researched, or a SereneCare consultant has presented to you. You will be educated on the facts; it is now a matter of working through these to understand what can help the person you are caring for and you. Consider how the decision will improve the quality of the relationship with the person you are caring for, improve your caring and life balance, improve your sanity! How does your decision affect you now and in the future?
Step 4: Make your decision
You can now make your decision with the information you have from Steps 1, 2 and 3. You have your goals, information regarding services and you have considered the best outcome for you.
This step is an emotional one and not one to be taken lightly. Researching and talking about the decision is the easy part; actually, making a decision or choice for another person, pulls on the heart strings. You are considering another person’s life as well as your own at this step. You are most likely feeling anxious; but listen to your instincts. If needed, there are counselling services out there that can help you. Contact SereneCare and they can guide and support you through to the end decision. You are not alone in this process!
Step 5: Action your decision
Don’t stop the momentum, keep moving with what you need to do. You may have enough time and knowledge to do this step on your own. If you need more help, SereneCare is able to provide more information on how to register for home help or find the residential home that works well for the person you are caring for and for you.
Taking these steps and knowing that help is just a phone call or email away will help simplify the decision-making process, help you achieve your desired outcome and make this a positive experience.
Together is better