Help At Home Or Away

Think ahead to get the support you need over the summer months. Here are suggestions from an expert planner, Access Homehealth’s Jo Kara.

Summer can be a relaxing time of year … in theory, anyway!

Many of us have our annual holidays during the summer months, allowing the busy home support workforce to rest and recharge. But summer can also be a season of uncertainty and disrupted routines for those who rely on help from others, and for family carers, who sometimes work harder than ever to assist loved ones when the paid workforce is on holiday.

Here, Jo suggests what arrangements we should all be thinking about as we prepare for the summer holiday season.

  • Arrange an appointment with your GP to get your summer WOF and medications for the next three months, especially if you’re planning a summer holiday. Having a fresh supply will also ensure you don’t run out of important medications when pharmacies are closed on public holidays.
  • Notify your homecare agency if you intend to be away over the summer period, or won’t need your usual visits because family will be staying.
  • If you have support needs, and friends and family who often provide help are going away on holiday, think about how you’ll manage without their help for tasks such as shopping or vacuuming; if you’d like some help while they’re away, you could arrange for private agency supports until they return.
  • If your family usually helps with shopping, ask them to stock your fridge and cupboards before they go away, including any cleaning and personal products you or your support workers might need until they return.
  • This is a good time of year to contact your homecare agency to review and update your emergency contacts, next of kin, their contact details, and dates they will be away over the summer period.
  • Be patient over the summer period if your support worker is five to 10 minutes late. This is a frenetic time of year, and traffic can be heavier. We do encourage you to contact the homecare agency if your support worker does not turn up within 15 minutes of their scheduled visit.
  • Do you have a ‘getaway kit’ packed with anything you’ll need for a few days in case there is a civil defence emergency or other traumatic event? Being prepared is especially important for those of us who depend on medications, continence products, disability equipment, and other items that might not be easy to access or buy in an emergency. Replace anything that’s out of date in your getaway kit so it’s ready for action in the New Year. You might also want to keep a smaller kit in your vehicle in case of delays or an emergency while you’re away from home.
  • The summer holiday season is busy for all health services, and some such as housework are not usually provided on public holidays. Be sure to talk to your homecare agency about how your usual services might be affected by the holidays. Relief support workers will come to see you if your regular helpers are on annual leave. Most home healthcare providers have an after hours support number, which you or your family can ring for reassurance and peace of mind if anything unexpected happens. Access’s out of hours support is available from 7am until 10pm, seven days a week.
  • If you think you or someone you care about will need extra help in the coming year, contact with the GP is a good first step, or connect with a homecare agency to discuss your concerns. You could also contact your local NASC agency to arrange a needs assessment (if you need help to find your nearest agency, phone Carers NZ’s National Resource Centre, 0800 777 797). Urgent referrals are best arranged through the GP
  • If your support needs are changing, you may want to review your current support services. If you are an Access client, or would like to know more about our services, one of our community registered nurses will work with you to develop a support plan to guide your support worker and ensure that your independence at home is maintained
  • Often clients like to acknowledge their home helpers and support workers at this time of year. A card is always appreciated, but workers are not permitted to accept gifts of value. Some baking, garden produce, or homemade preserves make good gifts for workers if you’d like to give one (gifts are not expected though).

To-do list

Things to consider if you’re going away over the summer holiday period:

  • Ensure pets are cared for.
  • Arrange for your mail and newspapers to be collected (or halted) until your return.
  • Leave gumboots and everyday items at your front door so it looks like someone is home.
  • It’s a good idea to put your lights on a timer switch!
  • If you’ll be away for more than a few days, ask someone to mow your lawns or water the plants (indoors and out).
  • Pack your hat, sunscreen and water bottle; it’s easy to become dehydrated while travelling in the warm weather.
  • Notify your homecare provider about your departure and return dates.
  • Ensure you have a good supply of medications and personal care items.
  • Whether you’re staying at home or having a break away, the summer holidays are a busy time of year; let’s make patience the rule of thumb for us all!