By Rosalind Hughes, founder of Just Caring Legal
Life – and unfortunately, ill health – hasn’t stopped because of the coronavirus crisis. Sadly, many of our elderly family members are still getting ill with other things. Strokes are still leaving them incapacitated. Parkinson’s, cancer or dementia are still galloping, robbing them of cherished independence. They are still going into hospital with broken bones, only to find their previous just-about-coping existence is now unattainable. So how do you arrange appropriate health or social care for a family member during the coronavirus crisis?
From drama to crisis
For families, arranging appropriate care for your family member is always a gut-wrenching time. It’s the sadness of acknowledging there is no going back to life as you knew it. The heartbreaking conversations you need to have about “what happens now?” The sometimes soul-destroying search for the best – or least worst – alternative to “going home”.
Now throw in the coronavirus crisis, and a troubling time becomes, quite frankly, terrifying. Hospitals are discharging many elderly, infirm patients in hours rather than days or weeks. No time to prepare mentally or practically. No time to break bad news gently to frail, poorly parents or partners.
Navigating the health and social care maze during coronavirus
Finding your way through the health and social care maze is never easy. Arranging appropriate care for your family member is a struggle at the best of times. The hurdles to a dignified and sustainable outcome can feel very high.
When it comes to arranging and funding care during the coronavirus crisis, new emergency legislation means the local authority and the NHS now have even more leeway to prioritise only those with the severest needs. And yes, short-term NHS funding may be available for those entering care during coronavirus. But there is still gnawing uncertainty about where the money will come from when the emergency ends.
However, some things haven’t changed
The first thing I want to say is: don’t panic. If your mind is in a spin, pick up the phone. There may be an emergency going on, but here at Just Caring Legal we are keeping a cool head. Because while things are definitely not the same, some things haven’t changed.
The most basic is that amid the talk of pandemic priorities, your family member is still entitled to fair and reasonable consideration of their best interests and their support needs. They are still entitled to protection from harm and neglect. Those making the decisions are still required to treat people with respect and reasonableness. They must continue to show that their choices are rational, fair, practical, and grounded in appropriate processes. And as ever, accountability is key. The decision-makers need to make evidence-based decisions and have clear justifications. None of that is new. In fact, it has underpinned our business here at Just Caring Legal since day one.
So if you believe your elderly parent’s needs are not being adequately met, then feel free to contact us by telephone or email at any time. We remain ready to advise you. Ready to have your back. And virus or no virus, that will not change.