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For Carers

About Caring

A carer is anyone who supports a loved one with ill health, a disability, illness, or in their old age. Many of the 56,000 stroke survivors in New Zealand have a serious disability and need significant daily support. A carer’s effort, understanding and compassion enables these people to live with dignity and to participate more fully in society. A professional carer is usually known as a caregiver, and a carer is often the persons partner. Carers come from all walks of life and vary in age, ethnicity, culture, outlooks and characteristics. What they have in common is a shared belief in helping others to have quality of life. But caring is not an easy task. The strain on the carer is often huge and it is very important for carers not to forget to also take good care of themselves! You and your loved one affected by stroke will probably experience the stroke as overwhelming personal tragedy. Suddenly, you may have to cope with serious physical, psychological, emotional, social and financial consequences. Caring for someone after a stroke can be time-consuming and frustrating, but it is important to help the per­son relearn skills and regain their confidence, rather than do every­thing for them. Joining a Carer Support Group can relieve some of the stress you are under as a carer. Many areas have specific support groups for carers, and some marae and churches also provide support services. Of course you can also always rely on the support from your local Stroke Field Officer.
New Zealand is relying on its family carers as never before, and for families to meet this challenge, those in caring situations must be supported, recognised and protected from the sometimes adverse consequences of having to care too much

Telephone Assessment for Home Help and Personal Care

In response to the outrage expressed over people with disabilities and the elderly being subjected to reassessment of the care plan by telephone, the Minister of Health MP Hon Tony Ryall, has advised that many DHBs are under financial pressure and, in the current economic environment. The changes have been made as part of a broader programme by DHBs to re-evaluate their spending. Mr Ryall was assured by all the DHBs involved that no-one will be unsafe or unable to stay in their own homes as a result of these changes. Any specific cases where there is evidence to the contrary should be brought to the attention of the DHB concerned. All Clients have a right to appeal a decision to alter home support provision. They (or their families) can also ask for reassessment of their support needs if they consider their level of service is not appropriate.

DHB Stroke Advice

The Ministry of Health advised DHBs that they should establish protocols for telephone assessments that include the following recommendations:

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Older people should be advised that an assessment or re-assessment is planned.
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The assessment phone call should be conducted like a conversation and be finished within 20-30 minutes. Sounding the client out about potential service planning arrangements or preferences is reasonable, provided this is completed within the time frame and does not pre-empt the analysis of the assessment results.
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Ideally this is arranged with the person by letter or alternatively, by a phone call to confirm an appointment time for a different occasion. At the beginning of the telephone call the assessor would advise the person of the purpose of the call, outline what they can expect will happen during the call, and that they can seek a review of the assessment findings if they wish.
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Older people with significant hearing, visual, speech, language or cognitive difficulties such as dementia, or who have English as a second language should be assessed face to face. These issues are usually identified on the original referral for services letter. If not, the assessor should stop the call and make home visit arrangements.
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The assessor should ask the person for the name and contact details of a family or whanau member that the assessor could also contact to discuss the assessment if required or if desired by the person.
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Clients must be advised that they can seek a review of the assessment findings if they wish.

A good plan would be to:

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have a family member who is aware of your needs and capabilities present when the telephone appointment is due to take place.
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At the conclusion of the interview ask what will happen next and repeat that out loud so that all are aware of what the intentions are.
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If possible use a speaker phone (perhaps borrow one for the day).
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If you are unwell on the day of the interview and you have no contact number for the assessor, be aware you can cancel the assessment for that day and the assessor will make another appointment.
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Discuss the purpose of the interview and the perceived outcome with the interviewer prior to the intended questions so that your family member is aware as well as you of the process.
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If your family member is unwell or cannot attend you can also cancel the appointment for that day.
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Any information you are given or future arrangements given to you by the assessor, repeat out loud.

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If you do not have a family member you can ask to be present, contact your Stroke Field Officer.
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Please make sure you do this well in advance of your intended assessment day.