Caring Role at Home
Providing care for a person at home can mean assisting with a variety of day-to-day activities including, feeding, bathing and dressing, managing medications and arranging or providing transport. You may also have additional responsibilities such as paying the bills, shopping and banking. Providing emotional support by being someone they can talk with is another important role.
There are a variety of services to support and help you in your caring role at home. There are also things that you can do to make your home more comfortable and safer for the person in your care.
There may be small changes you can make to the way a lay out of the home to assist the person you care for move around more easily. You may want to consider –
Around the Home
- Remove rugs and seal carpet edges that can be trip hazards
- Arrange the furniture to allow plenty of room to walk around freely
- Keeping the home and bench tops uncluttered, and cupboards and drawers in order
If the person in your care requires lifting, such as from a bed to a chair, this can be a difficult and complex task. Back injuries are a very common concern for Carers. Ensure you are lifting in the correct way –
- Enquiry with a Community Nurse, Occupational Therapist or Physiotherapist to help you devise the safest way to transfer or lift the person you care for. Also ask about aids that are available to assist with lifting.
- Request the Health Care Workers you normally deal with to arrange an assessment of your circumstances
Emergency Care Plan
- It is a good idea to create an Emergency Care Plan to help you to provide alternative care arrangements for the person you care for, if you are suddenly called away, become ill or have an accident. Emergency planning gives the person you care and yourself the reassurance that there will be somebody to step in when they are needed, and that they will have the necessary instructions to guide them.
Emergency Care Kits are available with emergency contact cards and information to assist you. It is of vital importance to have a plan in place if the person you care for has limited mobility. It will help you should there be an emergency situation such as a fire where you need to evacuate quickly. Enquire with your local fire authority for advice about evacuation procedures and installing smoke detectors.
These are links to some of the services available to support you in your caring role –
- Respite care – Allows you to take a break so you can engage in your own personal activities and appointments, while the person you care for is looked after either at home, in a community centre or in an aged care home.
- Counselling – Support, information and advocacy for Carers.
If the person you are caring for is not currently accessing the available aged care services, you may want to consider whether they may benefit from some Help at Home. A wide range of services are available including –
- Home maintenance and modifications including garden maintenance, repairs and installation of items such as ramps and hand rails.
- Meals including help with food preparation in the person’s own home and/or delivery of meals
- Goods and equipment including providing items such as a raised toilet seat and walking frames.
- Nursing care including assistance with managing medications and clinical treatments such as wound or catheter care.
- Transport including vouchers and subsidies for taxis as well as transport provided by volunteers.
- Domestic help including general housework such as washing and ironing clothes, house cleaning and dishwashing.
- Allied health including physiotherapy (exercises, mobility, strength and balance). Physiotherapists can also assist with techniques for safe lifting. Occupational therapy (assistance to recover or maintain your physical ability).
- Independent Living Centres which have equipment and products to help manage disabilities in daily life.
Transition to an aged care home
Making the decision to move into an aged care home can be a time of high emotions, stress, and a longing for the past and uncertainty about the future. It can be a challenging time for the person moving and their family, friends and carers. This can be exacerbated when you, as Carer, find that you are no longer able to provide the level of support required for them to remain living at home.
Even though it may be agreed by everyone involved that moving is the best outcome, you are still likely to have a range of strong emotions. You may face some unsettling issues as their Carer. There will be changes in your own lifestyle and routines. You may be worried about whether or not the right decisions have been made, or feelings of guilt. You may be relieved to share the caring role, though at the same time miss their companionship.
There are also many financial and legal concerns that are involved with a move into an aged care home.
It’s important to be aware that the range of emotions and concerns you are experiencing are normal for most people going through this experience.
Am I making the right decisions?
Everyone’s situation is unique, but it is natural for you to be asking yourself the following questions –
- Am I a failure because I’m not able to care for them at home anymore?
- Will they be looked after properly?
- Will other people think I am doing this for the wrong reasons?
- Have I done everything I possibly could?
- What will I do with my time now when I’m not so busy?
It can be difficult to consider your own needs, but it’s important to be realistic and decide what’s best for everyone, including yourself. Only you can make the decidion that the responsibility of caring has become too much for you.
Try following these tips –
- Allow others to assist you work through your feelings
- Try to talk to someone who’s a good listener about your personal circumstances
- Consider accessing Carer Counselling Services to help you through the transition period
Will my role continue as a Carer?
Once the person you have been caring for has moved into an aged care home, You can still continue to assist.
This is usually achieved in partnership with health care professionals. This can sometimes be challenging, particularly if you haven’t had previous experience working with them.
Consider yourself as an important part of a team. The team can include Pharmacists, Nurses, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists, Dietitians, Speech Pathologists, Diversional Therapists, Podiatrists and Social Workers, as well as the person’s Doctor and Medical Specialists. As a Carer you are an important member of that team.
Try following these tips –
- Be well informed who the health professionals are. Obtain written information about names, organisation, titles, contact details and the role they have in the treatment of the person you care for
- It is a good idea to take someone with you to appointments to be another listener
- Always take notes and keep a diary of your family member’s problems, symptoms, appointments, treatment and outcomes
- Have a list of questions so you won’t overlook anything
- Always ask for information to be written down, particularly about their diagnosis and medications
- Arrange an appointment without the person you are caring for being present. Even though the health professional may not be able to discuss their details, you will be able to talk about your personal concerns
- Enquire if your health professional can give you any printed material, or tell you where to obtain further support and information
- Request that the receptionist book a longer appointment if you feel there is not enough time. However, remember that some health professionals charge extra for a longer consultation
- Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself and the person you care for
If you need respite, Commonwealth Respite and Carelink Centres may be able to organise either short-term or emergency respite services.