On occasions, documents relating to caring procedures can appear as if they are value-free. They may seem to be influenced largely by financial rather than by quality-of-life factors. Paying close attention to the voices of carers can be neglected so easily. However, it is crucial that their hopes, beliefs, targets and aspirations are taken into account. After all, they are much closer to those for whom they are responsible than busy professionals who only may be able to visit and observe for short periods. Those in charge need to acknowledge fully that the active involvement of all interested parties is an essential feature of good practice.
Effective preparation and teamwork among stakeholders will enable clear, well-judged strategies to be formulated, shared and implemented. Those being cared for, their carers and friends can participate in passing on essential information and concerns. In particular, they should have central roles to play in forward planning and decision-making. Their commitment and dedication should result in them being well-positioned to suggest useful ideas about support, activities and therapeutic interventions.
When it comes to deciding about the forms and levels of assistance required, there is a variety of key questions which should be considered and the outcomes recorded. These include:
- Are the dignity and rights of those being cared for fully acknowledged across age, gender, ethnicity, faith and disability?
- Is planning sufficiently comprehensive? For instance, does it deal appropriately with: the quality of living and working environments; treatments and interventions relating to general and mental health care; arrangements for personal and social support; and organised activities within the wider community?
- How will professional staff contribute to ensuring that suitable help will be forthcoming?
- How useful and measurable are the criteria used for appraising the worth of support being made available?
- Will the persons in receipt of care and their caregivers be offered opportunities to add their own views and evaluations about the provision on offer?
It can be strongly argued that relatives and carers should have key roles in monitoring and commenting on the overall value of provision. In truth, they may feel a genuine responsibility to identify potential weaknesses or elements of inadequate support. Their objectives in doing so should be to promote high standards in health and personal wellbeing, social involvement and environmental factors.
Giving those being care for and their caregivers a true voice will ensure a sense of authentic togetherness.