Meet Kathryn: Mum of three, Financial Director, Daughter to Dorothy (89) : Follow her caring journey

May 12, 2023

“Caring for Elderly Parents Seminar”

I had the honour of presenting my “Caring for Elderly Parents Seminar” as part of Bosch’s “Befit” project last week. I was overjoyed that such a renowned organisation offered this informative lecture to their staff.

During this session, we followed the imaginary narrative of Dorothy, an 89-year-old woman who is having short-term memory loss, and her daughter Kathryn, a divorced mother of three grown children who works as an NHS ward manager and lives 20 miles away.

This is not an unusual story, and many employees will be familiar with it. Over the previous two decades, the workplace has changed, with more women working and rising to higher positions.

Employees usually have ageing parents who require varied degrees of care, attention, and support from their children.

What helped Kathryn cope with her stress?

Kathryn requested a care needs assessment from the local government.

Dorothy passed the financial tests and was labelled a “Self Funder,” so she began paying for a care package.

This initially helped Kathryn, but Dorothy’s memory deteriorated and she began falling regularly at home. Kathryn applied for the “Flexible working” position.

Employee flexible working rights

To be eligible, employee’s must have worked for the same company for at least 26 weeks.

Employers are required to respond to inquiries in a “reasonable” way.

Flexible working examples include:

  • Job sharing
  • Working from home
  • Part time
  • Compressed hours
  • Flexitime
  • Annualised hours
  • Staggered hours
  • Phased retirement

Information on Flexible Working

Kathryn was allowed to work her hours around her Mother’s obligations at the office. Kathryn began work at 7 a.m., took a break throughout the day to see her mother, and then continued her job later.

Dorothy got more forgetful during the following six months, the house became progressively messy, and Dorothy suffered a series of falls.

Kathryn needed some time off work to assist Dorothy in locating further assistance.

Kathryn inquired about unpaid carer leave. However, because this has not yet been approved by the House of Lords, it is not yet a legally protected right in the workplace. It will, however, be shortly.

Kathryn went to her doctor and was given a “Med3 Fit Note” for being unwell with stress. This alleviated her stress and allowed her to care for her mother.

Kathryn also investigated potential allowances to which she could have been entitled.

Information on Carers Allowance

Carer’s Allowance is the primary welfare payment available to carers. Even if you don’t consider yourself a caretaker, you may be eligible to claim it.

Information on attendance allowance

Attendance allowance is a payment for adults over the age of 65 who require assistance with personal care or supervision due to a sickness or disability.

Dorothy was admitted to the hospital following another fall and illness. She did not regain her mobility, and Kathryn had used her days off to look at nursing homes.

Dorothy was not safe to go home and had lost her competence to make this decision, so Kathryn felt a great deal of guilt.

Lasting power of attorney and Deputyship

Kathryn regretted not arranging Lasting Powers of Attorney since she now had to apply to the Court of Protection for Deputyship to act in her best interests for health, welfare, and finances.

Dorothy remained a “Self Funder” and was responsible for the costs of her nursing care, and all of her capital was considered in the financial evaluation.

Recent plans to implement a financial cap have been delayed until October 2025. The limit indicates the entire lifetime contribution to a single care. The maximum is currently set at £86,000.

Despite oral medications, Dorothy’s pneumonia worsens again. Kathryn takes emergency leave to see her mother in her final days. Kathryn contacts the GP and is referred for bereavement therapy after the funeral.

Kathryn took unpaid compassionate leave after her mother died. Employees can take time off for dependant emergencies. A dependence might be a spouse, partner, kid, grandchild, parent, or someone you care for.

Carer relevant rights:

  • Carers (Recognition and Services) Act 1995
  • Employment Act 1996
  • Work and Families Act 2006
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Mental Capacity Act 2005
  • Mental Health Act 1983

Kathryn was despondent when her mother died and saw her doctor about medication. Her GP suggested Hospice counselling and online CBT. She took unpaid leave to attend her counselling appointments.

Kathryn’s mood improved with lifestyle and grief treatment.

Kathryn thought about her mother and took efforts to help her children feel more in charge.

The trip with her mother inspired her to organise Lasting Power of Attorney and have honest dialogues with her children about her future care desires.

She considered how she had been undersupported at work. She retired early and plans to travel.
Kathryn retired early to tour the world.

As a community hospital GP, I watched how caring for ageing parents stressed their children. I think employers should be flexible about leave, not punish workers for taking time off, and point them to helpful services.The “Caring for Elderly Parents” training showed that employee carers might share their knowledge by organising workplace support groups.
Contact me for seminar details.

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