Christine was referred to our service as there were concerns over her future care needs. Social Work felt Christine required 24 hour care but her family were of the view she could manage at home with support. Christine had a diagnosis of dementia and lived at home alone and there were concerns from the Social Work department that she was becoming increasingly confused and isolated.
Christine had been admitted to a care home for a period of respite when she was referred to Ceartas. I visited her there and introduced myself as an independent advocacy worker who had been asked to visit her by both the Social Work department and her family. I explained to Christine that I was there to listen to her views and wishes and make sure that they were communicated to others involved in her care.
I spent time getting to know Christine and visited her on several occasions. We talked about Christine’s home life and the things that she liked to do. Christine told me that she had always been independent and that although she enjoyed living at home it could become quite lonely in the evenings. She told me that she liked to “take a walk round the village” to pass some time as she wasn’t a fan of the television. She said she understood that Social Work had concerns about this but that she always made her way home. When Christine and I discussed her future care needs she told me that she wanted to “remain at home for as long as possible” as she didn’t feel the time had come for her to move to care. Christine told me that she managed her own personal care tasks and the home-carers who attended to her made her some light lunch and an evening meal.
Following my discussions with Christine it was clear that she wanted to remain at home. She understood the concerns of others but felt that she “deserved a chance”.
I spoke to Christine’s family who said they also felt she should be given a chance to stay at home and that they would be willing to offer a degree of support to manage this. I then spoke with the Social Worker involved in Christine’s case and put forward Christine’s views. On behalf of Christine I asked the Social Worker to consider increasing the number of homecare visits and look at other methods of keeping her safe such as an alert system.
A meeting was called which Christine did not want to attend. She asked me to put forward her views and we met beforehand to discuss exactly what they were. Various professionals attended the meeting during which it was advised that Christine now lacked capacity to make decisions around her care. I advised that in line with the Adults with Incapacity Act the least restrictive option should always be explored and that as Christine did not have a full package of care at home, and her family were willing to offer a level of support, the option of Christine returning home should be considered. Following a great deal of discussion the decision was taken that Christine would live with her daughter and undergo a phased return home with an increased package of care. Christine was delighted with the outcome as were her family.
In this situation it was important that the Advocacy Worker was aware of local services that were available to assist Christine to stay at home. It was also important that the Advocacy Worker was aware of the relevant legislation in order to be able to challenge appropriately on Christine’s behalf the decisions that were being made. Most importantly for Christine, having an advocacy worker meant that she had someone ‘on her side’ at a time when significant decisions were being made about her life. To me, that’s the difference that advocacy can make.