Planning for the future - Your relative's care and support

This page is aimed at people who care for someone else and want to plan their support when they are no longer able to care for them. On this page we call the person you care for your ‘relative’, but we realise that you may not actually be related to them.

Overview

  • You may not always be able to care for your relative. You may become too unwell, have to move or pass away. A lot of people find it helpful to plan for this in advance.
  • You can plan for the future by:

    • discussing it with your relative,
    • asking friends or family if they can help,
    • raising the issue with mental health services,
    • talking to social services, or
    • thinking about supported housing or a care home if your relative needs a lot of support.

  • You can ask for a carer’s assessment from your local authority if you find it hard to care for your relative.

 

My caring role

At the moment, you may be helping your relative in many ways. This might include:

  • emotional support (being a ‘listening ear’),
  • help with shopping,
  • help with paying bills,
  • help getting out and about,
  • help with going to appointments,
  • reminding them to take medication,
  • offering somewhere to live, or
  • dealing with money problems.

You may be worried about your relative’s care and support needs when you can no longer care for them. This is a common concern for relatives of people with a mental illness. A helpful first step is to list some of the main things you do for your relative as a carer. This will give you an idea of the kind of support your relative needs. 

Once you have this list, you can plan the different things that can help your relative. Or how they could help themselves.

Discussing future plans with my relative

Your relative may also have concerns about the future. They may be thinking about what will happen when you cannot support them. It can be difficult to have this sort of conversation. Your relative may not want to talk about it as they may find it upsetting or overwhelming. They may also find it difficult to cope with change. 

We have made some suggestions about starting a discussion below, but how you talk about it will be very personal to you. It depends on your relationship with your relative. 

When to bring it up

It may help to set aside some time so that you know you will be able to discuss things fully without interruptions. If possible, it may help to wait until a time when your relative seems to be well.

Set the scene 

You could say that you would like to talk about what will happen when you can’t care for  them anymore. Perhaps because you will be too unwell.

Current situation

You might feel that you can continue to support them for the time being, or you may need to let them know that you are finding things difficult. You could ask if there are particular things your relative finds helpful at the moment.

The future 

Ask them what support they think they will need in the future. For example, do they feel they could live by themselves or will they need more support? 

Next steps

Avoid making promises about what will happen next. Some things may be out of your control. However, you can agree to look into things or to try your best to help your relative get what they want. 

Problems

If your relative doesn’t realise they are unwell (‘lacks insight’), then it may be difficult to discuss some issues. It can also be difficult if your relative does not recognise the support that you give them. 

You can still plan without your relative’s input. But things will be more difficult because your relative normally has to agree to any options you think will help. You may have a Lasting Power of Attorney for Welfare or a Court of Protection appointed Deputy Order. This gives you the power to legally act on your relative behalf and plan their future care if they lack
capacity.

Planning future care

At the back of printable version of this page there is a quick plan to think about your relative’s needs and how you can meet them. This includes look at where your relative will live, how they can get to their NHS appointments and reminders to take medication. 

You can download the PDF version of this page here

Friends & family

It is up to other friends and family members how much support and care they feel able to offer your relative. Some may have other commitments such as work, study or their own family. They may also live far away, which will limit the amount of support they can give. 

If other people agree to offer support, you could slowly increase their involvement whilst withdrawing the support you offer. This will help make things easier when you can no longer support your relative.

How other people can help 

Friends or family members may take over some of the support you offer. To start with, this could just mean getting in touch more often by telephone. Eventually, a friend or family member may offer to help your relative to go to appointments or take on other aspects of your caring role. 

Relationship breakdowns 

Sometimes there may have been an argument and your relative will not want to speak to you other members of their family. In this situation, family therapy or relationship counselling could help. If people in the family are willing to try this, they could try to arrange it
through your relative’s GP or through an independent relationship counsellor.

The following websites might help you to find a counsellor: 

 

Getting help from mental health services

You may be in a situation where your relative does not get help or support from mental health services. This may be because: 

  • as a family, you have always chosen to provide care and support yourselves,
  • your relative has refused to work with mental health services, or
  • it has not been possible to get help from mental health services for some other reason.

If your relative has not had any help from mental health services, you may wish to discuss this option with them. The best first step is for them to make an appointment with their GP. Social services may also be able to help.

If your relative is already getting help from their care coordinator and mental health services, get in touch with the team and let them know that you are finding it hard to continue in your caring role. If your relative needs extra support, the team may be able to put this in place. 

You relative can get help from social services. The Care Act 2014 gives local authorities the duty to assess people and help with their needs. This is called a needs assessment. Social services will assess your relative’s needs and the care and support they need. The assessment must look at:

  • how your relative’s needs affect their wellbeing,
  • what your relative wants to do in your day to day life, and
  • if social care would help you do what you want to do.

Supporting my relative to make decisions

Advocacy

Sometimes people like having someone to support them when they go to appointments. For your relative, this support might come from you or another friend or relative.

In the future, you relative might be able to get similar help from an advocate. An advocate is independent from health services and can help your relative get their opinions across. These are often called general advocates, or community advocates.

Advance Statements

If your relative is worried that they wont be able to make decisions for themselves, they can write down what they would like to happen in the future. This is called an advance statement.

An advance statement can cover:

  • treatment for mental illness, and
  • practical matters like who will pay bills or look after pets.

Putting together an advance statement could give you and your relative some reassurance about the future.

Trusts and Wills

You can make a will or trust if you want to leave money or possessions to your relative. A will lets you decide who will get your money and possessions when you die.

The money or possessions you give to your relative could be managed through a discretionary trust. A discretionary trust means that your relative does not get their inheritance paid to them when you die. Instead, the money will pass to other people, called ‘trustees’. You can choose who you would like to be a trustee, and it is important to choose someone you think is reliable. The trustees will decide whether or not to give your relative money. You might give them instructions explaining when your relative should be given money. But the trustees can decide not to. 

Rethink Mental Illness has set up Rethink Trust Corporation (RTC). RTC can be a trustee if you set up a trust. This means that RTC can make decisions about whether or not your relative will get paid from the trust. It is not a charity and it has to charge fees in order to cover expenses. If you would like more information about Rethink Trust Corporation and
how to set up a trust with them please contact us at: 

 

Website: www.rethink.org/rtc
Telephone: 0300 222 5702
Address: Rethink Trust Corporation Enquiries, FREEPOST RSYC-ZCJTRSRC, First Floor Castlemill, Burnt Tree, Tipton, DY4 7UF
Email: RTC@rethink.org

Can I get support?

If you start finding it more difficult to care for your relative, you can get support. You could:

  • talk to friends and family,
  • talk to your own doctor,
  • ask for a carer’s assessment from your local authority, or
  • join a support group for carers, friends and family.

 

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