How Health and Social Care Professionals Can Help
A wide range of health and social care services can offer information, advice, care and treatment to people with Dementia and their carers. It is useful to seek help while the dementia is still at an early stage, so that you know where to turn if the need arises. Contact your GP, the East Dunbartonshire Dementia Network and read Professionals Involved in Your Care. Post-diagnostic support is available for one year for people who have been diagnosed with dementia since April 2013 and a Link (Post Diagnostic Support) Worker will assist the person with dementia to develop a Personal Support Plan.
In the Access Community Support and homecare sections you will find information on local services. These can include equipment and adaptations, meals on wheels or frozen food delivery, homecare, Day Opportunities, Respite or Short Break Services and social activities. Some of these services are often provided on an assessed need basis and it is important not to wait until a crisis arises before getting in touch with services. People over 65 in Scotland are entitled to Free Personal Care if they have been assessed by their Local Authority as needing it.
Homecare services also have eligibility criteria. Some services are chargeable, some have self-referral and others need a referral from a professional. See also Self-directed Support. If you decide to use someone privately, such as for help in the home like cleaning or shopping, ask about the cost and get references. If you want to employ a physiotherapist for example make sure they are appropriately qualified. As with other services, a personal recommendation is a good way to find a private practitioner.
If you are new to dealing with services it may be useful to get some information and advice from the East Dunbartonshire Dementia Network, the staff there will be able to sign post you to the right service and ensure you have the right contact details.
Tips for Dealing with Professionals
- Prepare ahead for a meeting with a health and social care professional to maximise both of your time
- Organise your thoughts and make a list: think about what you want to discuss in advance regarding the care needs of the person with dementia. Write down any questions you have, and ask them during the meeting, or if the professional prefers post or email the list in advance of the meeting so the professional has an opportunity to prepare too
- Prioritise: if you have more than a few items to discuss, put them into order with the most important first. If you think all of your questions or concerns cannot be discussed in one meeting, convey this when you arrange the meeting
- Keep notes: keep a note of the meeting including the name(s) of anyone in attendance and write down action points eg. who is going to do what and by when
- Keep copies: keep copies of any letters or reports you receive, it might be best to make up a folder where information regarding the person you care for can be kept eg. medication details, name of Social Worker, name of Community Psychiatric Nurse etc.
- Bear in mind that you are likely to know the person with dementia better than the professionals
As a carer you are entitled to a Carers Assessment, sometimes called a Carer’s Conversation. This is your opportunity to think about yourself, about your needs as a carer and find out what might help you. Carers Link staff can help you to think about your caring role and consider the options for support and how to access it and plan for the future. This is all recorded on the assessment form, which they will complete with you and then – if applicable – use it to raise your needs with Social Work. They can also advocate on your behalf or help to liaise with Social Work as you go along.
If you have a complaint about a service, try to deal with the problem informally if you can. However, if you are unable to get a satisfactory result, there are more formal procedures you can use. Most organisations have their own complaints procedure. However, these are sometimes complex, so seek advice first. The Patient Advice & Support Service which can be accessed from the East Dunbartonshire Citizens Advice Bureau is an independent service which provides free, accessible and confidential information, advice and support to patients, their carers and families about NHS healthcare. Ceartas provides Independent Advocacy to people with dementia, older people and other groups and Carers Link provides support for carers.
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