Shared decision-making

When making the decision of choosing private home care, many people may be involved in making this decision, apart from the elder person requiring care. These may be either friends and family or healthcare providers who are involved in their care and can support them in reaching the right decision. Most of the time there are multiple stakeholders who are involved in the care of the elderly, such as healthcare professionals and informal caregivers - these may be different family members or significant others which are entrusted with having a say by the elderly person.

It is necessary that the elderly person requiring the care takes part in the management of their own health and has a say in making a decision. Often times though, the elder cannot make a responsible decision. The inability to make a decision may be due to a number of factors. Most of the time these are linked to ageing and can be unwillingness to participate or cognitive or physical impairment.

Despite this, the elder must be granted control over making the decision of what type of care they want and subsequently, where they want to live. This decision is sure to involve a high level of emotional stress, but it is highly important that the elders make their own decision about where they want to live, be in in a care home, though it is less likely, or remain in their own home.

Shared decision-making comes with certain benefits, such as:

  • Both parts feel free, supported and empowered to make informed choices and reach a mutual decision about care
  • Both parts can understand what is important to each other
  • Home care professionals can tailor the level of care to the needs of the elder

For example, in the case of an elder suffering from dementia, they will still be able to make their own decisions about receiving care at home or moving to a care home. They must make their own decision and be assisted with making the decision, if they need the help. However, often times, elders suffering from dementia have lost the mental capacity to make decisions for themselves and someone else needs to step in and make the decision for them.

If the elder does not have the mental capacity to make the decision, then it would be the person entrusted with power of attorney. This person can be a family member, a friend, a carer or a lawyer, to name just a few examples. When a decision is made on behalf of an elder who does not have the ability to make it themselves, this decision should always be made in their best interests. This means that their rights are respected and the decision reached is the best one for them.

Whoever makes the decision to hire a carer or move an elder into a care home must think of the best interest for the person with dementia. As much as possible, the person suffering from dementia should also be involved in the decision-making process, even if they don’t have the mental capacity to make their own decision. Their feelings and preferences must also be taken into account. Besides the elder, friends and family should also have a say in making a decision. That is because they are the closest people to the elder. They are the ones who know them best and would have talked to them about what they wish for the future.

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