Care can be given in different ways: informally by a family member or friend, or formally through primary and secondary care, social care or medical care. Primary care is a GP, dentist or optician – the people you normally see when you first have a problem (K101, unit 2, p. 74). Secondary care is any other health professional you may come into contact with following involvement in primary care.
There will always be a relationship established where care is involved, and the quality of that relationship can be an important factor on the quality of care given. Caring informally or formally can be demanding both physically and emotionally. The person requiring care may be experiencing a range of emotions and negative feelings such as fear, loss of independence, and disempowerment. The carer should be able to recognise these feelings and display empathy, patience, respect and kindness. Practical skills are also needed. For instance the ability to safely administer medication, tend to intimate personal needs, have a knowledge of specialist equipment, have a degree of physical strength, and an understanding of professional boundaries.
Ann was caring for her stepfather Angus (K101, unit 1) as he became ill with Parkinson’s disease. During this time Ann and her family lived with him and so her caring was informal. She did not consider herself as a carer initially. This impacted on her health as she did not seek help with the situation. Ann assisted Angus with personal care (which can be challenging for both parties), mobility, and tending to most of his basic needs. She became tired and impatient, and her mood grew low. Looking after Angus was both physically and emotionally demanding. Angus could clearly sense the changes in Ann and reacted by accusing Ann of being rough with him and hurting him. He also complained that he felt excluded (K101 DVD, unit 1) when Ann tried to spend time alone with her husband.
Ann was given very little informal support (support which is offered by friends and family), by her husband or daughter. Informal support can be invaluable as in my experience when my family assisted my mum in caring for a terminally ill relative which allowed my mum the opportunity to regain physical and emotional strength.
Once Ann had reached what was a ‘crisis point’ for her, she accessed primary care services for help. She made an appointment with her own GP to discuss her depression brought on by the pressures of caring, and sought the help of social services for Angus. The family was assessed and a care plan with care package was put in place. Assessment is the process of determining care needs and a care package is a set of services that will meet the needs as determined at the assessment (K101, Unit 3, p.129). It is important when writing up a care plan that the person and their family are fully involved. It is important to consider the person’s age, religion, sexual orientation and levels of ability.
Angus was provided...