October 7, 2020

Resolving Conflicts Between Families and Carers

This post was written by: Mamta Rajanwal

Family, friends and carers can all play an incredibly important part in assisting someone in need of care. Yet, why with such important roles do conflicts arise between family and carers? In this article, we look at the ways in which conflict can arise, and the methods to resolve those conflicts with one objective in mind, to care for the individual in need. 

Often when a loved one becomes so ill they are unable to do those things they once could do, it can be difficult for that person’s nearest and dearest to accept the reality that they now face. Many emotions, thoughts and feelings can be experienced by family members, including the person in need of care. At such times, many might feel helpless and are likely to feel strongly that they want to help the person who is poorly in whatever way they can. 

Conflicts between carers and family members, and even family members amongst themselves, can arise where everyone is working individually and are not communicating with one another. In such situations mis-understandings can arise, there can be disagreements as to the correct type of care, where to receive that care and even who can visit the person who is sick. 

Such conflicts can lead to the person in need of care feeling very alone and un-supported, especially where family members may drift away as a result of conflicts that have arisen or where they feel they are no longer needed as a result of the person in need having a carer. 

This can be a particularly disheartening time for families, including carers who might feel that they have failed to deliver the best service, or have let the person in need of care down.

How can we resolve these conflicts?

The first and foremost way to resolve conflict might be to help all family, friends and carers to understand that they usually all have the same intentions in mind; to care for, and help, the person in need. When it is understood that they can all work as a team to help the person together, it can often ease tensions when they arise. Use this mutual position to work together, and let your loved one know that you are there to support them together. 

Once you have understood that your intentions are often the same, try to understand one another; don’t be shy to ask one another questions. Why did the conflict arise? Why do you feel a certain way? Have a discussion about your thoughts and feelings and how you can progress forward in the best way, and try to be honest and open with each other. Communication is incredibly important, if you find yourselves in an argument or a heated conversation, step away and take some time to reflect, and most importantly remember that the most important thing is looking after the person who is unwell. 

It is important to stay calm, with a clear mind you are in a better position to make the best decisions for everyone involved; put your emotions to one side and think about the situation for what is it. Remember that you can all work as a team with the same objective in mind.

Where you find that everyone is not on the same page, sit down and make decisions together. Think about what everyone’s strengths are, and where their passions lie; for example, one family member may love cooking and make the most nutritious and healthy meals, therefore you might consider allocating the responsibility for food to this person. Another person may love to play the piano, perhaps this person should be responsible for an evening of music for all to enjoy. 

Each and every person, be it family, friends or carers each play a significant role in caring; individually and together. Keep this in mind and allocate regular time slots to come together and have discussions on how things should progress moving forward. In an ever-changing life, particularly in the current circumstances where times are incredibly uncertain, it is always good to have regular catch ups to avoid any misunderstanding and so that everyone is effectively ‘singing from the same song sheet’. 

Use the carers valuable knowledge and experience, together you can make an even bigger difference for the person in need. Don’t forget to remind each other, particularly the person in need of care that you are not alone, you have each other; individually and as a team you can do this. 

Safeguarding concerns 

Unfortunately, there can be circumstances where not everyone has the right or the best intentions at heart. In such circumstances safeguards need to be put in place to protect the person who is unwell. 

In order to protect yourself in the eventuality that you might become unwell and be unable to make decisions for yourself in the future you should consider appointing an attorney to make these decisions for you by way of a Lasting Power of Attorney. Attorneys can make decisions about your health and welfare or your property and finance on your behalf. Unlike the Lasting Power of Attorney for Finance and Property the Lasting Power of Attorney for Health and Welfare can only be used where you are unable to make decisions about your health and welfare for yourself. You should always consider appointing a person or persons that you trust to be your Attorneys. 

In the event that the person who is unwell needs protection from a person or persons who may not have the best intentions at heart, it is vitally important that families and carers come together and regularly review the progress of the person who is unwell. If you notice something suspect, don’t ignore it; come together and carefully review the situation for what it is and consider the options available to resolve the matter. If you are unable to find a solution, don’t be hesitant to contact a professional for advice; if the issue is very serious seek legal advice.   

If you would like to put in place Lasting Power of Attorneys, please contact us now at jgani@astonbond.co.uk for a free initial consultation.