Plan with Care act on Bill’s behalf to enable his mum to flourish

We love the Care and Wellbeing Service offered by Plan with Care. Alise, Head of Wellbeing at Plan with Care, tells us more.

At Plan with Care, we provide ongoing practical and emotional support for older people so they can thrive. We provide live-in care and day time at home (if needed) and we also support people living in care homes.

For us it about so much more than providing care: it is about improving wellbeing in addition to care needs being met. We look holistically at what brings people pleasure, their relationships, and the things that are meaningful to them.

  • Plan with Care supports Alice on a day-to-day basis on behalf of her son, Bill, who lives abroad.
  • Alice’s Care and Wellbeing Consultant liaises with all the professionals involved in Alice’s life – mental health professionals, social services, domiciliary care agencies, GPs and pharmacies.
  • Bill is consulted about all decisions affecting Alice.

Alice lives at home alone. Her son Bill, who she is very close to, lives abroad. He got in touch with Plan with Care when he was visiting one Christmas and realised she needed much more practical and emotional support than she had let on. Bill also suspected she was starting to live with dementia.

He started the search for support, but was quickly overwhelmed with the number of different people he was told to get in touch with. Knowing he was returning home in a few days, he contacted Plan with Care and said that he wanted to someone to act on his behalf on a day-to-day basis but who would communicate closely with him about all decisions.

Power of Attorney

As Alice and Bill’s Care and Wellbeing Consultant, I immediately encouraged Bill to apply for Power of Attorney (POA) for Alice’s finance and property, and health & welfare. Alice herself was relieved to know her trusted son would be taking over some of the paperwork on her behalf as this was piling up in her late husband’s home office. Once the POA was registered I was formally given permission to chat to all the professionals on Bill’s behalf.

Building relationships and trust

Alice was struggling with severe depression and paranoia. Although we bonded immediately over our mutual love of singing and nature, it took several visits before I felt she really trusted me and understood that Bill and I were acting as a team together to ensure she would continue to live the life she wanted to live.

It wasn’t about anyone ‘taking over’ (as she feared) but just the opposite – it is about listening carefully to what she wanted for her future and discussing how I could help make this happen. But for Alice it was (and still is) particularly difficult to admit this. She could always come up with an explanation for why things weren’t quite as they should be at home.

Day to day support

Over the years I have liaised closely with mental health professionals, social services, domiciliary care agencies, the GP and pharmacy, and local friends, charities and clubs, to ensure we’re all rallying around to keep Alice as safe, comfortable and joyful as possible.

Bill has peace of mind that all this vital work is being done, but with him consulted and copied in at all times. This enables him to get on with his busy family and work life abroad. For so many families we hear how critical this is – that people get to return to their role as ‘daughter’ or ‘son’, and let go of the full time ‘care and wellbeing management’ roles and tasks.

Two years later and we are at the point of a ‘Best Interests’ meeting where a range of professionals, myself and the family meet to decide how best to support Alice to continue to flourish alone at home – as has always been her wish. It isn’t easy – Alice isn’t always safe at home, but the risk of extreme distress to her of having live-in care or moving into a care home has so far been weighed up as too high. It’s an ongoing calculation, with Alice’s wellbeing at the heart of it.

info@planwithcare.co.uk

www.planwithcare.co.uk

Results are in…

It was back in September ’21 when I wrote here about why we set up the My Future Care Buddy Service. By then we were in the midst of a pilot and were busy collecting data from the 35 people who eventually completed the programme.

Supporting people to create an action plan around later life planning and then helping them to see it through is not a quick process but it IS extremely rewarding. It was exciting to see some of those lightbulb moments when, for example, people realised that thinking about the future is not just about  them but can also remove a major cause of stress for their family. We heard how the My Future Care Handbook helps take the heat out of a conversation about the future because it makes it feel like the obvious thing to do. And as the statistics started to come together we saw not only that people we were supporting felt better informed and had created some key documents, but their sense of wellbeing had improved as well.

The key findings are below. If you’d like to see the full report please email us.

  • The percentage of people…
    • feeling well or quite well informed about the decisions available to them regarding later and end of life care increased from 50% to 88%.
    • who felt well or reasonably well prepared for later life and end of life care increased from 30% to 100%.
    • who rated their quality of life as good or very good increased from 64% to 75%.
    • who rated their quality of life as fair or poor reduced from 36% to 25%.
    • who had had a full discussion with the person / people closest to them increased from 18% to 86%.
    • who felt it was very important to document decisions about later and end of life increased from 65% to 88%.
  • People’s mental wellbeing score improved from 48 to 77 (max 105).
  • Across 8 documents, the average percentage of documents that people had in place increased from 34% to 67%.
  • 100% of participants said they found the service to be very useful.
  • 100% of participants said they found four sessions to be about right (not all used all four sessions but were grateful it was there if needed.)

On the strength of those results we have now secured funding to deliver the service free to individuals and organisations in the south east and in slightly more restricted circumstances in other parts of the UK.

Whether you are an individual seeking support to make some plans for later life, or an organisation wishing to secure Handbooks and support for your members / patients / clients click here or email us further information.

For the dates of the next online group sessions, click here.

Calling on potential Buddies!

Updated 17th August 2022

Would you like to support people wanting to make plans for their later and end of life? Are you a good listener with a positive outlook on life and believe that it is never too soon to have a conversation about the future?

We are looking for volunteers, with a couple of hours a week available, to train as My Future Care Buddies. We are particularly keen to hear from people who identify as part of a community, whether faith, sexual orientation, gender or any other, who would like to support others within the same community.

The role of a Buddy is to offer support and encouragement as people think about and work on their plans for later and end of life. You don’t need to have your own later life plans in perfect order. You may even find that it helps you to do the same! You will not be expected to give advice and you will use the My Future Care Handbook as a structure for your conversations.

You will be paired up with a maximum of six people at any one time and will spend up to 3 x 1 hour with each person on Zoom, with calls spaced approximately three weeks apart. You will arrange mutually convenient times with the people you are supporting for each call.

No qualifications required, though experience of working with people in some capacity would be an advantage. Full training and ongoing support is provided.

Our next training sessions are coming up soon so if you’d like to hear more please email info@mycarematters.org without delay and let’s have a chat.

Next Buddy Training sessions: Tuesday 20th and Wednesday 28th September 2022, at 10 am for 1.5 hrs each day.


 

Learning Objectives – on completion of the course attendees will

  • Understand the relevance and value of advance care planning
  • Have a working knowledge of advance care planning tools and documentation
  • Have a working knowledge of coaching techniques
  • Be familiar with the contents of the My Future Care Handbook
  • Be able to support an individual to identify and meet their goals around later life and future care planning, using the My Future Care Handbook as a framework

Still procrastinating?

We were ready to start trials of the My Future Care Handbook – we had programmes lined up with a hospice, a hospital and with groups supporting people being cared for at home. It was March 2020 and I’m sure you don’t need a reminder of what happened next. All activity beyond core activities were cancelled at every health and social care organisation and we had to change tack.

We’d had a lot of input from all manner of people at each draft of the Handbook but we now needed to put it through its paces. Over 100 people generously agreed to complete the Handbook and report back on the experience. Some completed questionnaires, some emailed back their thoughts… and a lot went silent.

I started emailing people. Many admitted they’d been meaning to get on to it but hadn’t found the time. Remember, these were all people who had declared a need to make plans for their future, who wanted the peace of mind they knew they’d achieve once their decisions had been written down and shared.

I suggested we find a time for me to get their feedback by Zoom or on the phone. For many, that was the nudge they needed to open up the Handbook and make a start. Some hadn’t managed to get very far when we spoke, we chatted and agreed to speak again a few weeks later. They admitted they needed that date in the diary to galvanise them in to action. It is well understood that asking someone to check up on you is an effective way to beat procrastination. We don’t want to ‘fail’, or as Sally Knocker said, ‘we all like to please teacher’.

The initial outcome from this exercise was incorporating the various improvements that people suggested for the Handbook. The current version is very much stronger as a result – I’d like to say a big thank you to all those who contributed.

Another outcome was that at least 60 people are better informed, had conversations and made decisions about their later life and future care, according to their priorities. Some wrote a bucket list and what they’d like to have happen at their funeral. For others it was the more legal documents like powers of attorney and advance directives. Whether they worked their way through the entire Handbook or just tackled one task, we’d helped them move forward in some way.

The Handbook has been very popular and for some its arrival in the post will have been all they need to get on and complete some or all of the various tasks. But as we started to spread the word I couldn’t help thinking that a significant portion of Handbooks would arrive and be put to one side to be dealt with ‘soon’ or ‘when I have a moment’. (I do understand, by the way, that for some people finding the time, perhaps if you are a full time carer, is a real issue and not always a hollow excuse to keep putting something off.)

Having seen the power of those initial phone calls to nudge people into action, it seemed obvious to find a way to to offer that to more people. We did some fundraising and created what was perhaps the most important outcome of working with that large research group: My Future Care Buddy Service.

We are now able invite people to sign up to a one-to-one or small group sessions with a trained Buddy who will support you to identify and meet your priorities in later life and future care planning. Using the My Future Care Handbook as a structure for the conversation, we offer up to 4 sessions of up to an hour each and by the end of each session the Buddy and the person will have agreed an action plan to be completed before the next session.

Whether one-to-one or in a small group you will develop an an action plan with your Buddy and get another date in the diary so they can follow up with you and see how well you are progressing.

As one happy participant said: “Thank you Nancy for your understanding and guidance. After our session today, I got cracking and did a lot more… You are doing a brilliant job and I much appreciate it.” 

We have just announced the dates of the next three group sessions on Zoom and you can reserve a place, or request a one-to-one session, by emailing info@mycarematters.org.

  • 8th October 1 pm
  • 11th October 1 pm
  • 15th October 1 pm