23 valuable tips for carers from top healthcare professionals

For those of you who are just embarking on the journey of organising care for a loved one, it can be very daunting. For many its a new experience. So in order to help, I reached out to the professionals of the care industry and asked, if you could say one thing to a carer going through the experience of finding care, what would it be?

Here are the 23 tips in a chronological order.

I’ve highlighted some really key points. Thank you all to that contributed; I’m sure carers reading this will find your advice invaluable!

1. Speak to others before you commit

“Speak to others in their care, spend time with the carer before you commit. We spend our lives taking recommendations from peers on everything from what to eat for lunch to where to spend our holidays but we rarely speak to others about care.” Daniel from Care Home Watchdog – @carehomewatch 

2. You are not on your own

“Get advice and support – you are not on your own and there are people out there who can help you.” Stephen Burke from United For All Ages – @united4allages

3. Your loved one should be the centre of your focus

“The person you are caring for should always be the centre of your focus. Deep engagement – giving your full attention to each person you speak to every time you talk to them.” Gloria Haynes from Fremantle Trust – @FremantleTrust  The person you are caring for should always be the centre of your focus  Click To Tweet

4. Discuss care with your loved one in advance

“If at all possible, try to preempt an urgent, rushed, look for care by discussing the future possibility of care provision with the person you care for well in advance of the possible necessity. That can be a very difficult conversation or series of conversations, but in the long term it will be better for you and them to have confronted it, processed it, and acted upon it. Begin visits to prospective providers. See what their position is on short term stays to experience the provision.” Nick Berbiers from Neist Point – @ForSocialWork  If at all possible, try to preempt an urgent, rushed, look for care by discussing the future  Click To Tweet

5. Call upon experts who have been down this path before

“It’s really tough making a decision about care in a hurry. But you can call on experts to help as well as those who have been down this path before. Talking to social services is a good place to start. They may already be assigned to working in your loved one’s best interests and they will have a good idea of which providers in the area are a good fit. The Care Quality Commission is working hard to review all care organisations and their reports are well worth reading. And take advantage of the wealth of information, tips and advice on our site www.whentheygetolder.co.uk from experts and families who have been through the experience themselves.” Kathy Lawrence from When They Get Older – @theygetolder

6. Contact your local Healthwatch

“It can be really hard to find the information you need, when you need it. My advice to a someone caring for a loved one, looking for care for their loved one, would be to use your local Healthwatch. There’s a local Healthwatch in every area of England and we can provide you with information about all aspects of local health and social care services. Here’s more information about Healthwatch Dorset: www.healthwatchdorset.co.uk. To find your local Healthwatch go to this link: www.healthwatch.co.uk.” Louise Bate from Healthwatch Dorset – @HwatchDorset  My advice to a someone caring for a loved one, looking for care, would be to use your local…  Click To Tweet

7. Make life simpler!

“Find a way to make your life simpler!” Anoop Maini, Social Innovater 

8. Slow the crisis down

“If you and the person you care for are faced with an urgent decision, do everything you can to slow the crisis down. You and they need time to make a good choice. That is tough too. I know. I was once a young carer / carer in exactly that situation. But a rushed, bad decision is not the answer – I discovered that too. Better to summon as much strength and support as you can to keep managing the crisis at home whilst making your assessment visits to providers, than just going with the first available vacancy: unless it’s a great match of course. Keeping choice alive in a crisis is very challenging, but if you can do it, it will get you all the best outcome in a difficult situation. I wish all those caring for a loved one and people being cared for my great respect and very best wishes.” Nick Berbiers from Neist Point – @ForSocialWork  If you are faced with an urgent decision, do everything you can to slow the crisis down   Click To Tweet

9. Find out what telecare & telehealth is available

“First of all, please find out from your local council what telecare and telehealth services are available from them which might help the person you are caring for retain their independence for longer, and stay in their own home. You can do this by getting a professional assessment of their needs, and matching this with what’s available – much of it at low cost or free to the user. The UKTelehealthcare website can help you locate your local council’s Careline or Linkline services – they all have similar names.” John Chambers from UKTelehealthcare – @ukthcnews  Find out from your local council what telecare/telehealth services are available #tipsforcarers Click To Tweet

10. Check if you are entitled to public funded care

“Check info on whether you should even be paying for care with a care fees reviews, sort Power of Attorney and Wills and be sure Insurance and money, mortgage and home matters are all in hand by using an independent service like The Help and Information Service www.thehelpandinformationservice.xyz where expert advice is available unlimited and free via phone.Their experts will call you back.” Laurence Kelly from Ostrich Care – @OstrichUK 

11. Make sure you receive a full assessment

“Start with your local Authority. Ask for information that is available in your area. Ask for a full Comprehensive Needs Assessment to include a Financial Assessment and work opportunities. Also, check for local groups in your area” Elcena Jeffers Foundation 

12. Reach out to your local carers group

“First of all, seek advice from your local carers support group. They will know what’s available in your local area. Don’t be afraid to contact your GP and social services directly and ask lots of questions. Write them down before you make that phone call. Be determined and persistent.” Joyce Cavaye from Former Carers – @joycecavaye  First of all, seek advice from your local carers support group #tipsforcarers  Click To Tweet

13. Dont face this alone

“Do reach out and ask for help. Many local authorities are brilliant at going the extra mile, even if you’re not eligible for financial support. There are loads of other outstanding organisations who can also give you help, support and advice – like Carers UK, The Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK and many others. Remember, you don’t have to face this alone.” Nick Kirwan – @Nickinse1

14. Everyone care needs are different, discuss it

“Everyone’s view of care and care needs is different. What suits one doesn’t suit another, so be confident in asking questions and choosing the care that matches your needs and the person needing care. Discuss it fully and stay fully engaged with the care providers. Care can be a great solution to remaining independent at home, or enjoying the company of others in residential homes. There’s a great side to care – be sure to find it.” Laurence Kelly from Ostrich Care – @OstrichUK 

15. Look out for bright décor, engaging activities and more

“When looking for a Residential Care or Nursing Home look for one with a bright décor, en suite facilities, and residents who are securely and supportively seated and engaged in activities.” Elaine Hollerhead from Designate UK – @DesignateUK  

16. Ensure the care provider is compassionate

“Invest the time up front to ensure any (employed) carer is truly compassionate” Mark Duman from Patient Information Forum – @markduman  Ensure any (employed) carer is truly compassionate #tipsforcarers  Click To Tweet

17. Ask what might seem like silly questions

“Trust your Instincts, stay open minded and ask what might seem like silly questions.” Hugh McCann 

18. Request to see the managers of care services

“After research using CQC website to draw up your shortlist, request to see the managers of the service and ask lots of soft questions to determine their motivation and ethos.” Judith Jolly from Liberal Democrats – @jollyjudith  Ask lots of soft questions to determine their motivation and ethos #tipsforcarers  Click To Tweet

19. Take initial consultations with professionals

“Do request free initial consultations with skilled professionals including generic advocates, solicitors, public funded advocates to consider a suitable plan to deal with financial, legal and emotional challenges. This plan once created can be reviewed when required and create certainty and peace of mind for you.” Reeta Ram from Dementia Partners – @Dementia_UK  

20. Make sure legal formalities are in place

“Make sure that all the legal formalities such as powers of attorney and advance directives are in place. It makes things so much easier for the family/carer if they know what is required.” Heledd Wynn from Clarke Wilmott – @Heledd_Wyn  Make sure that powers of attorney and advance directives are in place #tipsforcarers  Click To Tweet

21. Regular review meetings

“Treat me as a person not a diagnosis’. You can request a care and support plan from your local authority or possibly, your local dementia support organisation.  Be involved in regularly reviewing care and support plans for the person receiving care as well the unpaid carer. This enables the carer to better manage changes in need. Regularly review the wishes of the individual needing care, promoting their dignity and wellbeing. There are samples of plans on the internet. It must be relevant, for example include cognitive impairment and problems with verbal and non-verbal communication. Some complex medical problems may result in clinicians and paid carers helping with reviewing the care plan.” Reeta Ram from Dementia Partners – @Dementia_UK  Be involved in regularly reviewing care and support plans for the person receiving care Click To Tweet

22. Put contingencies in place

“What contingencies could you put in place to provide support when I am not able to fulfil my caring role? This could be due to illness, emergency hospitalisation, holiday etc.” Philippa Codd from Mango Social Care – @philippacodd 

23. Ensure you are mentally prepared for the future

“Make sure that you are mentally prepared for the future of caring for a loved one. Be prepared for things to go wrong, so that when and if they do, you will be expecting issues and they will be easier to mentally cope with.” Hilary Cragg from Nash Solicitors – @hilarycragg Make sure that you are mentally prepared for the future of caring for a loved one #tipsforcarers  Click To Tweet

I hope these tips are helpful! Let me know your thoughts below and for those professionals who weren’t able to contribute this time, put your tips in the comments and I’ll look to add them.

Jamie has worked in the care industry for more the 7 years and has also personally gone through the experience of organising care. Jamie shares his thoughts with others to help them organise their own care.
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