The new realities of economic globalisation and global mobility combine to bring exciting opportunities for growing numbers of people. But the freedom to live and work virtually anywhere in the world brings its own challenges, not least of which is how expats can care for aging parents and relatives when they may be based thousands of miles away.
In our previous post, we discussed the steps you should take to ensure you are fully prepared in the event of a situation arising, but while planning ahead is always best, we all know that life can get in the way of making plans – especially when they involve confronting the mortality of those we love. It’s for this reason that expats can find themselves in a crisis without a contingency. So, what should you do if you find yourself taking the phone call you’ve always dreaded, telling you that one of your parents has been hospitalised? In fact, it’s usually when the relative has recovered enough to be released from hospital that the real problems begin – and of course they are amplified for an expat who has to deal with them from a distance.
On the one hand the hospital will be keen to get their bed back, and the discharge team may be calling the expat several times a day asking when the relative can be discharged. On the other hand, social services will not want the patient to be allowed to return home until suitable care arrangements are in place. While the local authority will take responsibility for putting together a care plan, this can sometimes take many weeks to complete. The result is an extremely stressed expat, and a relative languishing in hospital rather than being home where they will be happier and healthier.
It can be a worrying time for all parties, but there are a number of important points to be aware of:
- You are absolutely within your rights to tell the hospital discharge team to leave you alone until you have organised a care plan. Some people worry about doing this because they think it may impact on the quality of care their relative receives, but this is not true.
- You don’t have to wait for the local authority to create a care plan, you can arrange an independent plan through a reputable private domiciliary care agency.
- While the local authority is obliged to prepare a care plan, only a small number of people will be eligible to have their care funded (currently individuals with assets of less than £23,250).
- While local authorities will generally work with care packages of 15 minutes, most private agencies won’t undertake work in blocks of less than 1 hour – not unreasonable when you consider that even a simple visit will probably involve getting the client out of bed, washed, dressed, preparing a meal for them, and making sure they eat.
Being aware of these things will give you the ability to speed up the process, but of course, communicating from another country, in a different time zone – often while working too, can be extremely difficult. One option is to engage a professional agency to coordinate the key parties on your behalf, and give you a single point of contact. They can liaise with you, your relative, social services, the hospital discharge team and medical team. They will be able to arrange an independent care plan for you, and make sure the recommended care and support is in place as quickly as possible – reporting back to you at all stages to give you complete peace of mind.
Is this a topic that affects you? Alison Hesketh of TimeFinders – a company specialising in helping expats care for elderly relatives is one of the presenters at ‘Caring From a Distance’, an event being hosted by the group which I co-chair – Families in Global Transition UK (FIGT UK). Details are as follows:
Caring From a Distance – click here to register your free place
When: 7th November 2014
Where: Signature Care Home, Cliveden Manor, 210 Little Marlow Road, Marlow, Bucks SL7 1HX
Organiser: Families in Global Transition UK (FIGT UK)
To book a place on this FREE event, click here.
For a real-life case study, please click here.