The ability to choose how we want to spend our later years is empowering. But as we get older, the reality can sometimes feel as if we are losing that power to decide how we want to live or even where we want to live. This can quite often start when families make decisions about moving an elderly parent or relative into a care home or getting a carer without involving the person they want to support in the process.
Most people’s biggest fear about being cared for is that they will lose control over how they spend their time and have strangers looking after them. This is why you should take a person-centred approach to weigh the options when you look for care. Person-centred care involves activities and services that respect the individual and improves their quality of life without compromising their identity.
In this post we speak to Jeanette, CareCompany’s Business Manager, about the importance of person-centred care when it comes to choosing a care companion for your loved one.
What is person-centred care?
Person-centred care is a holistic approach which puts the elderly person at the centre of their care. This means that the individual’s choices are respected, and their lifestyle and interests are taken into account when pairing them with a care companion and arranging support. It’s about adding value and lending a helping hand, not wrapping them in cotton-wool. It needs compassion and empathy to think about things from their point of view and being respectful of their wishes.
Why is it so important when choosing a care companion?
The right care companion can improve life tremendously by helping the person who needs care to look after themselves better and stay engaged in activities they enjoy, or just by being a positive part of their life. Finding the right match means everyone can rest easy knowing they’re in good hands.
On the other hand, if the person and care companion don’t get along, it can be a terrible experience for everyone and make a potentially difficult change in life even harder. For example, if the person is paired with a talkative carer even though they prefer a quiet environment it will stress the person out and even change the way they feel and think about care.
It can be scary meeting with a new carer at first but being open when discussing expectations beforehand and going through the detailed assessment can zero in on the important issues and help identify the right kind of carer.
How does the CareCompany ensure that care companions are good matches?
The first step is to arrange an assessment and get to know the individual more. It’s an opportunity to find out about their unique qualities, preferences and needs. Quite often families will describe an elderly person as ‘frail’ when in reality they just have some health challenges and need some assistance to go about their day. Our expert team has the insight and experience to get beneath the first impression.
For example, if the client is looking for someone to cook – what kind of food do they like; are they talkative, are they active, etc? Using this information, we can match you with someone who shares your traits or balances them.
Take a person who loved gardening; they can be paired with a care companion who shares a love of the outdoors. This shared interest can express itself in different ways - through visiting parks, talking about nature, and even recommending books. Getting it right means that the care companion becomes more like a friend than a service provider.
What are some of the things that families need to consider when choosing a carer?
- We encourage families to be transparent with everyone as much as possible in the decision-making process. Letting someone into your home is a big decision that should not be taken without consideration for the values and needs of those affected.
- What level of care does your loved one need? Do they need someone to come in twice a week to help with light house work or do they need someone to do activities with? There are various levels of care needed and a care assessment is a great way to fully understand them.
- Ask yourself whether you feel the person you’re considering will act with compassion, respect and dignity?
- Is the care services personalised or is it either a ‘one-size fits all’ or a ‘my job is only X and Y’ approach?
- Do your homework, don’t be afraid to ask tough questions and get references.
Person-centred care is at the heart of what we do at the CareCompany and we work closely with clients to ensure the services we provide are tailored in such a way that the elderly person is still able to enjoy their interests and hobbies as well as maintain their lifestyles and preferences.