Do you know your parents’s health information? Unlock this game-changer for the sandwich generation.

In the challenging journey of the Sandwich Generation, where you find yourself caring for your parents while raising your own family, there’s a crucial aspect that can be a true game-changer: organising and accessing your parent’s health information. This article will guide you through the process and highlight why it’s ESSENTIAL for providing exceptional care, ensuring confidentiality, and empowering you and your parent.

My story

In the early stages of my mum’s Alzheimer’s, my dad and I faced a whirlwind of medical appointments. Each new visit led to the same inquiries about my mum’s medical history and medications. Over time, as Alzheimer’s progressed, we took on the role of providing this crucial information.

In the later stages, having a comprehensive list of my mum’s medications proved invaluable. It allowed us to fine-tune her care to ensure her comfort. To streamline the process, my dad and I created a shared digital document accessible on our phones, eliminating the need to scramble for information. It transformed our caregiving experience.

Why bother to collect your parent’s health information?

Have you ever found yourself in countless medical appointments with your parent, where each new healthcare professional asks for the same medical history? It can feel like starting from scratch every time, and remembering every detail can be overwhelming. In an emergency, easy access to your parent’s medical history and medication list can be life-saving.

What information should I collect?

Here’s what information you should gather:

  • Medical History: A comprehensive record of past illnesses, surgeries, and medical events.
  • Medication Records: A list of current medications, including names, doses, and schedules.
  • Emergency Contacts: Contact information for family members, neighbours, and friends who should be notified in an emergency.

Parent consent

t’s a good idea to reach out to your parent’s GP practice to find out how to get permission to see someone’s medical records, because the rules can be different depending on where you go. Remember to be respectful of your parent’s privacy and follow the laws about protecting their personal information when you’re trying to access medical records in the UK. It is usual that your parent will need to give full written consent to their GP practice for you to be able to access their health information. 

How to collect this information: My 3-step guide

Step 1: Talk to Your Parent

  • Have a simple and honest conversation with your parent
  • Explain what you want to do, why it’s important, and make sure they’re ok with you getting access to their medical information
  • Remember medical information is private, so they need to give written consent 

Step 2: What your parent remembers

  • Chat with your parent and together jot down as much as they can recall about their health history
  • This includes things like past surgeries, any times they had general anaesthesia, list of the medicines they’re taking and any allergies they have 

Step 3: Help your parent get access to their GP record

In England there are 3 ways to do this: 

OPTION 1 – Access to their NHS Account: get the NHS App for free from the App Store or Google Play. When they first download the app, they’ll need to contact their GP practice to tell them they want full access through the app. 

OPTION 2 – Check with their GP practice to see if they offer online access through patient portals.

OPTION 3 – Reach out directly to their GP practice and ask for access to their medical record. 

How and where to store the information

Consider using digital platforms or apps to securely store and update your parent’s medical history. The NHS App, Evergreen Life app, and MyGP app are examples, but explore the options that best suit your needs. Keep hard copies of essential medical records in a designated folder, and maintain a list of emergency contacts.

By striking a balance between accessibility and security, you’re ensuring the best care while respecting your parents’ confidentiality and empowerment.

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