Adjusting to the arrival of support workers in your home can be a challenge for the whole family – but it’s not a challenge you face alone.
“Here are some things we know to be true,” says Caroline Blanchette, Banyan Home Care Services Branch Director:
“We know you don’t want to be in the position of needing care in your home. We know you don’t want to have to look outside of the family for assistance. We know that your first wish – if you could have one – would be that you/your mother/son/husband/friend could get on with living a life without support; without disability, dementia, illness, injury or frailty. We also know that the reason you’re inviting us into your home is because you choose to stay at home, where you can live in your own way. We know it is a privilege to be invited into your family life, and we never forget that your home is your castle.”
“Strangers are just family you have yet to come to know” – Mitch Albom, author
“When a builder comes into your home, you change out of your pyjamas,” says Branch Director, Charlie Draper. “You tidy up a little, you make them a cup of tea, show them the bathroom, and generally stay out of the way. We all know how to behave with builders. But paid carers and support workers? Are they staff? Visitors? Friends who help your wife shower? It’s perfectly normal for this relationship to feel unfamiliar in the beginning. Suddenly you are sharing your home with people you never chose to live with. But over time, relationships and roles do realign. Supporting families through this adjustment is part of Banyan’s role.”
“It’s your home, so you make the rules,” says Caroline. “Open and early communication is at the heart of a smooth home care experience. Ask questions, make requests, and express as much about your family routines and personalities as you can. Involve as many family members as you would like in the early-stage Care Plan creation – it helps us enormously to know the aspirations and expectations of family members as well as those of our clients. If you like a quiet house, let us know! If you love dogs, but hate shoes in the house, let us know. If it’s a family ritual to never miss Antiques Roadshow, this is important. It’s our role to fit-in around you, not the other way around.”
“If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking” – George S. Patton, army general
“Family disagreements about home care, as about almost everything, are normal”, says Charlie. On top of adjusting to a new diagnosis, injury, or health concern of a loved-one, you’re also navigating the new and complex areas of medical treatments, care options, and funding demands. The early stages of care can be a stressful time.
“It’s not uncommon to see family members champion opposing methods when it comes to care or rehabilitation,” Charlie says. “One may be more risk-averse and would prefer their loved one to have a restful routine with a low level of challenge. Another will say the opposite; that challenge and new experiences are the better plan.” Be assured that not only are these debates normal, they are probably the same ones that the care team is having. In the end, your priority as a family should be to support a consistent practice of quality care. Regularity and predictability of routine can be more important than you realise.
The boundary between professional care and friendship is one which support workers are trained to recognise and maintain, but it is still a boundary that every team member and family navigates in its own way. “We encourage our teams to build relationships with family members, GPs, and next-door neighbours,” Caroline says. “It’s through these relationships that we learn more about our clients and about how to provide the best possible care.” But professionalism should always come before friendship. “It’s good practice to take into account a daughter’s wishes, or husband’s wishes, but at the end of the day, the client’s well-being is our primary concern” adds Charlie. It helps for families to approach home care with the same outlook.
Is it reasonable to hope that your support worker will be someone you like? “Absolutely”, Caroline says. Banyan makes a significant effort to match support workers with clients according to their interests and hobbies. “Good conversation about things you both enjoy – whether that’s music, films, politics, or sharing photos of your family – can make such a difference,” she says. Wherever time allows, prospective Banyan clients are provided with profiles of possible support workers to choose between and they will meet their support worker for pre-approval before their service begins.
Inviting a support worker into your home can be particularly challenging for family members who prefer to do some care tasks themselves. “And this is absolutely fine,” Caroline says. “Discuss this with your support workers, and, provided that you can perform the activity safely and within the best practice and best interest of the client, then you are encouraged to continue to do whatever has meaning and value for you.” If you would like to shower your mother, and that is her preference too, then do. If your father prefers that you feed him, then do this. But if your loved-one would get more out of sharing a cup of tea in the garden with you, or your help with their finances and admin, then let Banyan do the washing and meal, and invest your time in the ways that are most meaningful to you both.
Supporting the smaller ones
Banyan’s dedication to support for families means children are always considered in our care, especially bearing in mind out specialism in the area of young onset dementia. Banyan would recommend The Dementia Diaries (dementiafriendlykent.org.uk) for teens who are experiencing dementia in their family, and The Memory Journeys, written by Branch Directors Charlie Draper and Caroline Blanchette whilst working for charity Younger People with Dementia (Berkshire), (www.ypwd.info/shop), for children aged 6 to 9 whose parent is undergoing their own dementia journey.
Did you know?
Emergency care is available at a moment’s notice for Banyan’s clients, as long as an assessment has been carried out, thus ensuring the safety of all involved. Don’t therefore wait for the last minute to obtain support, plan ahead and get an assessment in place so you know you can call upon Banyan at short notice.
Distribute care calendars and rotas to everyone who might appreciate knowing the care schedule. If friends and extended family can see a week’s plan, they can work visits and their own days around it.
Secure any emotionally or financially valuable items in a safe or with a friend. When a person opens their house to home care, they are at other times opening it to tradespeople, delivery people, and medical professionals. It helps everybody in the house, and the family, to know that the security of valuables is not a concern.
Designate an off-limits space in your home if it makes you more comfortable. If you would prefer that support workers did not enter your private study or back bedroom, then flag this for the Care Plan. Sometimes it’s comforting to designate an area that’s for your eyes only.
If you would like further information about the support that Banyan Home Care Services can provide, then please give us a call. We would love to hear from you.