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How Jointly has helped Julie care for her ageing parents

By: Maria Kimina
On: 6th February 2015
Organisation name: Carers UK
Project name: Jointly
Jointly has made managing medications easier for Julie and her seven siblings who share the care for their elderly parents. 
Julie’s mum is 86 years old and has dementia and arthritis while her dad is in his 90s and has diabetes, a heart condition and prostate disease. 
Julie and her siblings all work and have families and have to juggle this alongside caring for their parents who live in North London. None of the children take a lead in their parents’ care, as none live within popping-in distance, but they visit on a rota basis which means that each one ends up caring for an hour or two each week. 
Sharing care with so many people means it’s very important for Julie and her siblings to have easy access to information so that everyone knows what’s going on – particularly with regard to medication. Julie has set up two circles of care in Jointly – one for their mum and one for their dad. Julie’s mum doesn’t have to take much medication while her dad takes a lot and Jointly has helped the family keep track of what medication her parents are on. 
“For me the most important reason for using Jointly is keeping track of my parent’s medication”, says Julie. “It’s very useful for everyone to know who’s on what and have access to it. We go to hospital appointments with my parents and it’s very useful to have that at hand, what the past history is and currently what’s happening.” 
Caring has been difficult for Julie and her siblings and for Julie, Jointly has helped to make life a little easier. Julie states: “For me personally it has relieved stress.” 
She explains: “Overall the impact of caring has been very stressful and frustrating. Seeing my mum relatively rapidly lose the will to live and being so poorly. She used to be a woman that never stood still. She used to be Chair of Governor’s boards at schools, she used to be a teacher, a keen gardener - she used to do everything. She has now gone to doing nothing. You can’t have a conversation with her anymore, she doesn’t remember enough to have a proper conversation. She still recognises us but that will probably soon go too. Seeing her like that has been very difficult for me on top of trying to help from a distance and interacting with my seven brothers and sisters, their families and my dad.” 
Julie says her dad previously didn’t have a lot to do with running the house, leaving it all to her mum, but now he’s the one in charge. “He is the one who goes shopping and is the brains behind mum as well. Mentally he is on the ball but physically he is declining.”
“You think about it all the time and you can’t think about it all the time as it takes over your whole life.”
Jointly has also helped Julie in other ways. She likes the fact that key contacts are all in one place on the app and those of family members within the caring circles can be kept separately from others. Julie says: “I have put the cleaning lady there. She is someone local who goes into my parents’ home. We all knew she was Helen but no one knew what her surname was or her number. Now it’s all on there.”
As well as using Jointly the family call each other and swap texts to keep in touch. The siblings ask their dad to text them once a day to let them know he’s all right.  “Dad has a very sweet system - he sends a text message with three dots to say he is ok.  I don’t know how we got to the three dots. Obviously if we don’t get the dots we text each other ‘have you got the dots?”