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For Everyone Touched By Cancer

Preparing4Care: Driving Person-Centred Care, Free of Charge.

Written by Lloyd Willey on 
29th December, 2019
Updated: 9th September, 2023
Estimated Reading Time: 7 minutes

I’ll start with a quick introduction to Preparing4Care (and person-centred care) but then take a short trip back in time before we come back to look at our service in more detail.

Preparing4Care have recognized that the person best placed to provide information about their likes, wishes and preferences is the individual themselves - this is known as 'person-centred care'. In fact, a number of care providers commented on how they wished they could have spoken to the person entering their care 5 years previously.

Preparing4Care has recently launched a FREE online service to ensure a person’s voice is always heard. Over 4,500 people have subscribed to the service since its October 2019 launch. The Personal Reference Guide sits at the heart of the person-centered approach, which is championed by Preparing4Care. This guide is completed by answering a series of questions about key areas of someone’s life, including their family, environment, food and drink preferences, and leisure activities. The Personal Reference Guide is made up of 23 different sections, each with around 10 questions per section. The guide is accessed via the Preparing4Care website, individuals can register for a secure online account and answer the questions (on their own or with assistance from others) over whatever timescale is appropriate for them.

The guide intentionally goes into a lot of detail, it is this detail that will ensure appropriately tailored care can be designed and delivered. Once completed the Personal Reference Guide forms an encyclopedia of that individual, therefore ensuring their voice is always heard. Answers may be added to at any time (but not amended) if someone’s wishes and preferences change over time. Access to the Personal Reference Guide is then granted to a family member or loved one who can, when required, grant further access to a Care Provider. Those that have been granted access are also able to add (but not change) responses within the guide to ensure the information contained within is reflective of any important changes.

So, I work for Preparing4Care to deliver marketing and to promote our service.

I wanted to take a few steps back and start with looking at why I chose to work for Preparing4Care. Like many people, my life took a few turns and I ended up on the wrong end of a redundancy decision. There were a few routes in front of my and for a while, I looked at the one that allowed me to work, be self-employed, from home, and spend time with my son, who was only 3 months old at the time I made this decision.

Making this choice was one I certainly look upon as a good decision. My wife went back to work, in the evenings, and I got to spend so much time in the early developmental stages of my son’s life. However, as time progressed, I needed to start looking at other options. Working for yourself can be great, although it is also inconsistent and income can fluctuate. I decided to start looking for a new role.

Whenever I look for a new job, I make sure that the position sounds interesting.

Staying in the same industry, or even a job role, is not as important to me as looking for something a little different. The processes started down the usual path and applications turned into interviews and interviews turned into callbacks for second stage interviews and before I knew it, I had a few choices in front of me. Then, up popped a job advert for a company called Preparing4Care.

I applied one day, had a call the same day, interviewed the next day, and had a job offer the following day! Everything seemed to fit. The other job offers got rejected and I accepted Preparing4Care’s offer. When you work in sales and marketing so much of it is about driving profits up. Increasing revenue. Hitting targets and KPIs. This needs to happen for businesses to sustain and grow. However, you don’t always find a role where you feel like the service you are going to be promoting can improve people’s lives. I am avoiding that phrase of “giving something back” because it is not one that I’m a fan of. But to feel that you are on the right side of something that could become a staple part of driving person-centred care was something I wanted to be involved in.

Hearing about the Preparing4Care service and some of the personal stories about those who are involved, it drew me to want to push this service out to the world and generate awareness.

To create marketing campaigns and materials for something that could genuinely help improve the quality of life of those in care. A service that can alleviate the stresses and potential guilt of family members and loved ones having to make decisions about someone else’s care.

Person or patient-centered care is about a way of considering and then doing things that ensure the person requiring care is treated like an equal individual in the planning, developing and execution of the care they are to receive.

The individual, their families and loved ones should be at the centre of care decisions working in conjunction with care professionals to deliver the best care possible.

Historically, people were encouraged to adopt routines and processes that health care professionals felt where most appropriate or convenient to them. Person-centred care is about considering things from an individual’s perspective and wherever possible integrating their wishes and preferences within the care that is delivered.

Person-centred care is about considering things from an individual’s perspective and wherever possible integrating this to work with care providers' needs and to work with individuals, their families and loved ones. This helps to determine the most appropriate way to provide care that best suits the needs and wishes of the individual themselves. This collaboration is key if care is to be delivered in a compassionate and appropriate manner. 

The provision of person-centred care brings with it many benefits, not only can the general quality of care be improved but, individuals may retain independence for longer, the necessity of moving into residential care may be delayed and most importantly a person’s quality of life may improve.

This all sounds great however, there is one key issue - how will care providers understand someone’s wishes and preferences if the individual concerned lacks the ability to communicate for themselves? This is the challenge faced by an increasing number of people with conditions such as dementia (or in fact any condition that results in cognitive impairment) that may require care either now or at some point in the future.

Preparing4Care: Driving Person-Centred Care, Free Of Charge.

We are creatures of habits, we feel most comfortable in our home environment, we thrive on familiarity and many of us are wary of change.

All of these emotions may be magnified if an individual is suffering from some kind of cognitive impairment.  We all have personal preferences regarding the type of food we eat, the television we watch or how we interact with other people. It is these preferences past, and present that make us unique.  This uniqueness is something we should all be able to carry with us throughout our lifetime, including any time spent in care. We need to acknowledge, however, that these preferences may change over time. Whether through personal choice, a change in circumstances or a medical condition, a preference today may not be the same as five years ago and it may differ again in 5 years’ time.  This may not be an issue if someone is able to communicate a change in preference themselves, but what if they have lost the ability to communicate or are unable to recall some of the information accurately?

It is a reality that as people live longer, we are all likely to require care at some point in our lives. 

If someone loses the ability to communicate for themselves then it falls to family members, loved ones and healthcare professionals to build a narrative of that person’s life. In most cases, it is the information gathered from these consultations from which a care plan will be developed. How well do this group of individuals know every important aspect of that person’s life? Some may not have lived with the individual concerned for many years or only known them for a relatively short period of time, therefore much of the information provided is likely to be guesswork at best.  Throw into the mix that this is already likely to be an emotionally challenging time for everyone involved and your chances of building a meaningful person-centred Care plan are limited. 

CQC and N.I.C.E have rightly thrown a spotlight on the need for Care Providers to design and deliver person-centred care.  Luckily the majority of Care Providers acknowledge these important directives and are looking at ways to effect change.

Preparing4Care believes that the information contained within the Personal Reference Guide will prove invaluable when developing person-centred care plans and is the best way to ensure that individuals requiring care are themselves involved in every step of the process.

One of the major difficulties we have is getting people to fill out a Personal Reference Guide before they require care. Trying to get people to accept that at some point in their life they will likely require care. Nobody wants to think about a situation where their whole life changes and all of a sudden, they need care. These situations can leave us unable to communicate our needs, preferences, and wishes. We have some plans for campaigns to try and raise awareness for just how important a Personal Reference Guide can be to establish person-centered care. So, keep an eye on us and hopefully, we will see you too.

If you would like to support us then you can create your Personal Reference Guide by visiting the website: https://www.preparing4care.co.uk

Further reading

How A Cancer Care Parcel Helped Me Through My Cancer Treatment

Cancer Information And Resources

How To Help Someone With Cancer: What You Need To Know

We strongly advise you to talk with a health care professional about specific medical conditions and treatments. The information on our site is meant to be helpful and educational but is not a substitute for medical advice.

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