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Working in partnership with relatives

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Posted on 1st March 2013.

Relatives play an important part in how carers can deliver care.  When the family of an elderly person engages care for their loved one they want to be sure that the elderly person is looked after properly and is not subjected to undignified or low quality care.

There are many occasions when the relatives feel that the standard of care provided is not up to standard. In the majority of such situations it is more than likely that there is inadequate communication between the family and the care providers. It is always advisable to work with families at all stages of care provision.

The Social Care Institute for Excellence (SCIE) provides the following key messages for achieving excellence in domiciliary care:

  • A good relationship between staff and people using services is vital.  This requires continuity of staff, so that they can really get to know the person they are supporting.
  • Matching staff and people using services, so that there are shared interests, can help achieve excellent home care.
  • Staff who are passionate about what they do, and who have a “yes, I can do that’ attitude, find their work more rewarding and tend to provide a better service.
  • Working closely with the families of people who use services can really help to ensure that the right care is in place.
  • People using services should be given the opportunity to be involved in choosing staff and helping to run services.

All the above messages can be better implemented if family members are an equal partner in planning and the delivery of care.

Many of our clients are very elderly and have dementia and are unable to express their opinions about the care received. They are more inclined to talk to their relatives if they are unhappy about an issue.  It is important that the communication channels with family are kept open to avoid complaints or accusations of neglect and abuse at a later stage.

Family members are also a great source of help in understanding the behaviours, like and dislikes of the person being cared for. All staff providing personalised care must ensure that the care planning takes into consideration the wishes of the client as well as their family members. Such an approach would keep the relatives satisfied that their loved ones are safe.

Helping Hands have a robust system of training and supervision for staff which reinforces these messages very strongly.

Sally Tomkotowicz