Preparing for handover day
The day of handover is one of the most important days in a placement. It's a very busy day and can be stressful, not only for the carer, but also for the client, who may be feeling anxious about the change.
These are the areas that the outgoing carer should focus on and pay attention to when preparing for handover:
Medication - make sure there is an adequate supply of medication, at least two week's supply. (This may be different for blister packs which arrive on set days). If you have ordered any extra medication which will arrive during the incoming carer’s rotation, make sure to tell her/him when it is expected or whether it has to be collected. All this should be in the handover sheet. (I would say make sure there are no gaps in the MAR sheet, but that worry should now be a thing of the past with the eMAR system.) There should also be a mini-audit of the medication done at handover. If there are any changes in the medication, be sure to mention that and have to hand any supporting documentation as well. (Remember, any changes to medication must be in writing from the prescriber).
Food - there should be an adequate supply of food in the placement. If online shopping has been done and is due arrive, or if the online shopping needs to be completed, the incoming carer needs to know all these details. All opened food in the fridge needs to be labeled and there should be no out of date food in the fridge. This is a really important health and safety check. Food that is past its use-by date is unsafe to eat and should be thrown away. It could also contaminate other food in the fridge. Extra careful attention should be paid to meat products and safe storage. Meat and fish should be stored on the bottom shelf. If you are unsure about the meat and when/how it was defrosted, throw it out to be on the safe side.
Petty cash - each carer should make absolutely sure that the amount of petty cash is correct and that all receipts have been recorded in the financial transactions sheet.
Appointments - any upcoming appointments must be discussed at handover, especially medical appointments and transport arrangements.
Cleaning - now we come to one of my favourite topics! I've devoted a whole post to just this topic in my article, 'I’m a carer not a cleaner', and I cannot stress enough how important it is to make sure that the placement is spotless. The floors should be hoovered and washed, bathrooms should be clean and inviting, the kitchen surfaces must be clean. The placement should be tidy and there should not be a pile of ironing for the incoming carer. A few items is acceptable but I have come into placements where the laundry basket has been overflowing and the ironing pile at least a week old. It is not very nice to be a new carer coming in and to have to spend your first afternoon cleaning up after another carer. The other room that should be clean is the carer’s room. The bed should be made up for the next carer, the floor and surfaces clean and the bathroom spotless. This may seem like stating the obvious, but I am stating it because, unfortunately, I have experienced it all myself.
While all these practical tasks are all-important for handover preparation, let's not forget the most important person during this process, the client. Many clients become very anxious as handover approaches, especially if an unfamiliar carer is coming in. Your client may need reassurance in the days leading up to handover and as the hour of arrival comes closer. If you have worries about the carer being late and missing your own transport, I would advise that you remain outwardly calm and not share this with your client. This will only increase their anxiety. Although handover day can be busy with more to do, it is important that we keep the atmosphere and the mood of the placement positive and cheerful and not allow our personal worries to affect our clients.