Many would agree that the right care can transform your life. That’s why we’ve spoken to Ann Macfarlane (OBE), who is an independant living consultant and disability rights campaigner, for her tips on getting the best care for you.
I have needed care and support all my life. It’s taken me a long time to understand how the system works and many newly disabled people aren’t as aware of what their options are; social care is just one of the systems that a person who requires support might need to understand.
That’s why I support Find Me Good Care, a comprehensive online source of adult social care information and advice to help people find the right care, whether at a time of crisis or planning ahead.
It was created by the Social Care Institute for Excellence – a UK charity focused on improving care and support services – which helps people to think about what their options are, what their rights are, how to pay for care and so on. It also has a handy directory of services where people have the option to leave feedback.
The right care transformed my life and I want others to be able to find care that helps them to live life the way they want to. From my experience, here are my top 10 tips on finding the best care for you…
1. Make a list of your needs and place them in priority order. Think of every aspect of your life: personal care (including hair, nails etc); leisure at home and outdoors; relationships; domestic work; employment; hobbies and communication needs if you have difficulty with seeing, hearing and/or speaking. Make these needs clear when asking about support work so your priority needs are met.
2. Find a disability or older people’s organisation locally and ask to be put in touch with a person in similar circumstances to yourself so you can learn more about how they have obtained good care in your area.
3. Ideally, meet up with that person and take someone along with you as ‘listener.’ This person can help you to reflect on what you have heard and maybe even take notes.
4. Ask your local disability or older people’s organisation for an independent advocate, a type of professional lawyer. Working to understand the system and what is best for you takes time and can be tiring. While relatives and friends can be helpful, sometimes it is important to have an independent advocate to help make things clearer.
5. Go online to the Find Me Good Care website, type in your place of residency and look at the types of information that might be helpful to you and your needs.
6. Contact your local authority, in particular the adult social care department, and ask what support and information they offer, especially around personal budgets and direct payments. They can also give you a list of residential and nursing homes in your area.
7. Get in touch with your local voluntary association and ask them for a directory of local and community groups, some of which might offer free assistance such as a gardening or a handy person service for small household tasks. Also, if you require it, they may be able to assist with information on writing a will or organising an enduring power of attorney.
8. If you have been ill and in hospital, make sure you don’t just accept the services that the hospital staff might suggest, such as the community reablement program. Also, If possible, avoid going straight into a long-term residential setting. It’s easier when you’re ill for someone to exert pressure and rush you into a decision. But don’t allow them to, take your time. Get a relative or friend to bring you information on care and support so you have all the options in front of you.
9. Find out what short and/or long-term benefits you may be entitled to receive. Much of this information is online, such as on GOV.UK, but local organisations mentioned previously can offer guidance and even support with filling in forms.
10. Finally, don’t give up. Be persistent in your searching as life will be greatly enhanced with appropriate support.
By Ann Macfarlane