Planning for the person, not the problem

Having a shared a vision for her daughter Clare’s future made it easy for Joan and her planning group to discount one suggestion for where her daughter might live.  

Joan lives with her daughter, Clare, and together they have a good life worked out. However, Joan was beginning to be concerned about the time when she could no longer do the amount of personal care she now does for Clare. She was also worried about what might happen if she was suddenly taken ill or died. She had recently spent some time unexpectedly in hospital and realised that, although there were many people who cared about her and Clare, no one knew much about what to do for Clare each day.  After worrying about this for some time she eventually invited some of her family and friends to meet together to start planning. 

The first few meetings were spent sharing what each person knew about Clare and gauging what she thought about their ideas of what she enjoyed doing and what she might hope for in the future. Although everyone knew Clare fairly well the sharing of stories and ideas showed that the group could be more effective than each person individually in supporting Joan to work out what she and Clare might do in the future. The also realised that their talking and planning was beginning to positively influence what was happening for Clare right now.

One important role for the group was to help Joan put together all the knowledge she had about Clare’s life – what she enjoys doing, her daily and weekly routine, her medical information, how to use the equipment needed at home and when travelling. This was developing into an important document for family, friends and support workers.  

Another area of discussion centred on where Clare might live in the future.   Someone had suggested to Joan that Clare might be able to move into a retirement home or hostel with her. At first some of the group thought this could be one solution to the problem of where Clare would live. Joan and others in the group, however, were not convinced. They could see that it could “solve the problem” but it would not suit Clare at all. One member of the group, Michael, reminded everyone of the earlier discussions they had about Clare and what she enjoyed in life. Michael reminded them that Clare loves hearing and feeling familiar people around her. She particularly loves it when the children of family and friends visit her. She loves to go out often and likes listening to rock and roll music from the 50s and 60s.  

Sandra, a daughter of one of Joan’s friends, agreed that the plan of living in a retirement home would not be good for Clare. Sandra works in Aged Care and spoke from her experience. She told the group that the “small print” rules of many hostels and retirement homes would not allow Clare to live the kind of life that gives her enjoyment nor provide the security of having people around her who know and love her. The group agreed that, based on the vision Joan had for Clare’s future, and the kind of life they knew she would want for herself they had to consider other ideas.  

(Names of the people in this true story have been changed.)