Plan Ahead – it’s better for everybody
Planning ahead your important life decisions is even more important now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as greater risks are posed to our health and well-being.
That means that if in the future, you did not have the capacity to make our own decisions (due to illness, or age-related frailty) that there is clarity on your future wishes regarding healthcare, where you would like to be cared for, who can act on your behalf, and use of your money.
This means Planning Ahead now – thinking about, talking about and recording these important preferences.
Advance planning also safeguards against risks of being treated badly, disrespected, or suffering from adult abuse when we are vulnerable.
Having our choices easily accessible if needed is also better for all of those around us – reducing potential for stresses and tensions among loved ones, and for providing information to healthcare professionals.
Who is most at risk?
Who is most at risk?
Planning Ahead is recommended for all adults, especially those who are getting older and is particularly important for vulnerable people such as those living with:
- Reduced decision-making capacity
- Age related frailty
- A serious or sudden illness
- A mental or physical disability
- High-risk of serious illness from COVID-19
- Under the control of another person.
Think Ahead form
You can address many ‘Plan Ahead’ needs by completing the Think Ahead form available at www.thinkahead.ie.
It’s one document in which you can record your personal information, emergency contacts, health insurance, medications, cultural preferences, religious beliefs, place of care wishes, Advance Healthcare Directive, resuscitation preferences, organ donation wishes and financial information.
Once completed it is important that your trusted family, friends, or professionals know
where your form is. You can update your preferences at any stage.
Think Ahead is an initiative of the Irish Hospice Foundation.
Steps to ‘Plan Ahead’
The recommended way to plan future healthcare is to put in place an Advance Healthcare Directive, a document that is recognised in law. You can talk with your Doctor about making one – and keeping it where it can be easily found.
In it you can record future healthcare preferences including treatment approaches, surgery, medicines and resuscitation. During COVID-19 healthcare professionals will still be guided by people’s preferences.
2. Place of Care
In the event that you became unable to live independently – you should have made clear your choices on Place of Care.
Would you prefer to live at home with supports, in a nursing home, or a hospice, remain in a hospital, or live with a family member or friend?
COVID-19 has changed access to health services for all of us – and pandemic restrictions should be considered. However, we still have choices.
3. Enduring Power of Attorney
An Enduring Power of Attorney means giving legal and financial decision-making powers to a chosen person if you lack decision-making capacity. All adults are encouraged to put in place an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA).
During the COVID-19 period, you can phone or email your Solicitor and they can advise you on how best to put an EPA in place. If you need financial assistance, you may qualify for legal aid.
We all need to prepare for the likelihood that one day we may need help managing our finances. Unfortunately financial abuse is a significant issue for older people. We should talk with someone we trust and plan our finances.
Banks and An Post are keen to work with customers to safeguard their finances. For the COVID-19 period they have put in place additional services with dedicated helpline numbers established.
More information is available in a special Banking & Payments Federation Ireland guide Cocooning During Covid-19, A Guide to help customers manage their money which can be viewed at safeguardyourmoney.ie
Turn your wishes into PLANS
It may not always be possible to deliver on all of our wishes, and this may be more difficult during the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, by being discussed and recorded your preferences can be at the centre of important conversations or decisions about you, if you were unable to act independently.
Unfortunately adult abuse occurs, particularly at times when we are vulnerable. We know that Planning Ahead greatly reduces the risk of being treated badly, or suffering adult abuse.
Planning Ahead is also better for those most important to us. Our clarity reduces the potential for tension or stress among loved ones and families. It also helps healthcare professionals to provide the best possible care for us.
Plan Ahead – it’s better for everybody.
Call it out
Safeguarding Ireland’s advice is – if you suspect abuse – take action and Call it Out. HSE Safeguarding and Protection Teams provide services and support in each region of the country.
Call the HSE’s National Safeguarding Office at (061) 461 358, or find details on this website’s CONTACTS page.
Safeguarding Ireland does not deal with specific cases of abuse, or alleged abuse.
The HSE has a social work service that you can contact if you have a concern about a vulnerable adult who may be at risk of abuse. There are nine teams located throughout the country. You can find information on how to get in touch with them on the Contact page.
Registered Charity Number (RCN): 20204851.