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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
- 8th October 1 pm
- 11th October 1 pm
- 15th October 1 pm