kitchen worktop care operations
Maud and Mum kitchen workshop ‘mission control’

Wondering how you might organise elder care to fit everything in? Need some time saving tips? Read on…

You’ll already be on top of things (just), but bringing another adult into your life needs a rethink and a rejig.  You’ll be OK, but everyone will need to make adjustments.

I know now that I was naive about what caring actually entailed and about how care changes over time.  For example, when Marj first moved in, even though she tired easily, she was able to walk around relatively easily with a stick or frame.  So physical support wasn’t an immediate priority in the early days of our cohabitation.

However, what I totally underestimated was the impact a new person in our household would have on ‘family admin’.  Meaning additional doctor, hairdresser, banking, optician, audiology, dentist, chiropodist and later on social services, domiciliary care companies and workers, occupational therapist, equipment delivery appointments etc, let alone new or different shopping and fun/social appointments.

First there is the challenge that the time of day when Marj has most energy, I will likely be at work.  The second challenge is that where I or the rest of the family might want to, say, have our haircut, may not be Marj’s preference.  Thirdly, there are physical access challenges, as anyone trying to wrangle a heavy wheelchair knows (yes, even nowadays).

These four approaches helped me accommodate the additional family admin:-

I) Have help come to Marj. We mounted a simple combination-locked keysafe by Marj’s front door so trusted visitors can enter without disturbing me at work or home. Now trips out together are for the serious or fun stuff. Note also that the number of visitors over time will only increase.

II) Decide who I can delegate to, then do it.  For example I’m happy to trim Marj’s fingernails but happier for a chiropodist to trim toenails. A mobile hairdresser and GP practise nurse also visit Marj every few weeks and use the keysafe to enter. I found pre-screened hairdressers and chiropodists at Age UK. If I forget to leave the cash out, I transfer payment to bank accounts. Supermarket home delivery is also a time saving option.

III) I bought a ‘Marj’ calendar (marked ‘1’ in photo), with room for notes.  We keep it on Marj’s kitchen worktop.  That way all visitors can make their own appointment entries and everyone involved in Marj’s care can see what’s planned and when, including holidays or nights off/cover.  It’s a rudimentary method of communication in this age of tech, but it’s effective.

IV) I also have an open exercise book (marked ‘8’ in photo), where any visitor can log their visit and what happened during their time with Marj. This has become Marj’s care ‘Log Book’.  This is even more useful now that Marj is less mobile and a little forgetful about recent events. We can keep track of physical needs like hydration, meals and illness as well as social visits.

These four basics now form the backbone of our domestic care ‘organisation’.  Even as Marj’s needs have become more complex, the system works 90% of the time.

What systems do you use? We’re all ears.


PS, in case you were wondering about the other items in the photo:

  • 2 is a write on-wipe off Marj shopping list,
  • 3 is the booklet of exercises Marj does at lunchtimes,
  • 4 is Marj’s ‘care plan‘.
  • 5a, 5b and 5c are the three different lever arch files required by the three separate private domiciliary care companies that help care for Marj (more on this later too!)
  • 6 is a write on-wipe off message board for short term messages,
  • 7 is a pad for me to take notes away.