If your loved one is struggling to deal with day-to-day decisions about their health, finances or work for example, it is inevitable that it will fall to loved ones to attempt to support them.
This can be very time-consuming and complicated. It can also feel quite uncomfortable managing these kinds of personal decisions and the legalities can become complex. Simply trying to keep everything going can mean that you find yourself making decisions that you possibly didn’t need to or that you’ve become so used to managing everything that there is no space for your loved one to start dealing with things themselves again.
For the best chance of recovery it’s a good idea to reassess the decisions you’ve been automatically making to ensure that you still need to be making them. Sometimes that can feel like a big risk – stepping back is scary! If you’re struggling with the whole concept of letting go – talking to someone else about this might help.
Consider an independent advocate
PohWER provide advocates and further information about advocacy that can help if you feel you need better support ensuring your loved ones wishes are being carried out.
Abuse of people by their carers DOES happen, financially, emotionally or by physical neglect. Advocacy can also provide reassurance and protection if you are making a lot of decisions for another adult and are concerned your intentions might be misinterpreted.
Get written consent and regularly update this.
Very often, written consent is needed from the person you care for to discuss their finances or medical issues. Consent is then often considered to be granted until it is revoked. This is useful in terms of practicalities but disempowering for the victim of crime and encourages a level of dependency that might not be helpful in the long term. You may also find yourself providing ‘too much care’ that is actually trapping both of you in a situation that’s both unhealthy and prevents recovery. Read our information about Empowerment.
Make formal arrangements if necessary
If it is likely that the person will require long-term or permanent support to manage their own affairs, put things on a legal footing, either through a Power of Attorney, Guardianship or through the Mental Capacity Act. There is more information about making decisions for someone on this government website.
Don’t be rushed
Employers, financial organisations, schools or colleges for example, can sometimes put great pressure on victims of crime and their carers to make decisions. This is often because they require certainty or resolution but that may not be best for you or your loved one. If your loved one isn’t ready to make a decision, explain the situation and ask that they contact you again in for example, 3 months. You won’t be able to delay things forever, but a lot can change with the passage of time and allows space to think things through more rationally.
Banks, credit card and mortgage companies all have policies that will allow debts and interests to be frozen in times of distress or hardship. They will expect regular contact but they are usually very understanding. There is more information about money and finances here.
Employers should follow the guidance of medical experts and occupational health professionals and there are legal protections to ensure that your loved one’s employment or dismissal is dealt with fairly, especially if they are disabled (or living with a long-term health issue). If your loved one belongs to a Union, make sure they are aware of your situation. There is more information about work and employment here.
Schools, univeristies and particularly FE colleges where attendance is part of the pass / fail criteria for a particular course can add considerable distress to young people who are recovering from violent or sexual crime. There is more information about education here.
You get into a habit of making decisions because they need to be made – filling in forms, applying for things, speaking for them. After a while, you realise you’re doing things you probably don’t need to be doing but by then, stepping back seems much more difficult.
Remember to manage your own affairs too!
If you are a 3rd party victim of crime with significant caring responsibilities, ensuring that your affairs are in order is essential. It’s also likely to be buried under a huge number of other urgent or immediate priorities and the very last thing you want to think about if you do manage to find a free moment. The information about protecting yourself and your loved ones provides an essential checklist of making sure your organised.