Christine Husbands, Managing Director of Red Arc, one of the pioneers of added-value looks beyond financial protection.
Protecting people and families against the impact of challenging life events is the foundation of our industry. Many insurers now recognise that financial protection is only part of the story and offer added-value services, many in the health arena. It is pleasing to see the comment in the 2018 Swiss Re Term Watch report; ‘The industry has slowly realised that, as 7 Families proved conclusively, help insurance’ (third party benefits such as RedArc and Best Doctors) is just as important as paying out money.”
In life, these challenges come along when we least expect them and can include anything from a couple failing to conceive a baby, maternity complications, physical or mental ill health in children, teens or adults, tragic accidents, degenerative diseases, disability, traumas, elderly care and bereavement.
When something seriously bad happens, even the most capable person can be sent into a tailspin, not knowing where to turn to for help, what is available and how to access it. People can easily develop mental illness as a result of a physical event, relationships can suffer and many find themselves unable to cope.
With such a wide range of potential events and the fact that people react in different ways, solutions need to be flexible to give effective and holistic help.
The approach, advice, information and sign-posting needs to be carefully tailored to ensure that it is relevant to the particular circumstances and needs of each situation. For instance, some may prefer telephone, others face to face or electronic communication.
When additional services such as therapies, counselling and equipment are also provided, it’s very important that these are relevant and in a format within the comfort zone of each individual. Examples could be play therapy for a bereaved child, group activities for teenagers, rehabilitation services such as cardiac for young adults, through to equipment to allow an elderly parent to continue to live independently and help to find appropriate respite or long-term care facilities.
Information is really important but it’s easy to get swamped and bamboozled by it all, there is so much mis-information on the internet too. So having relevant information provided by a trusted source can save a lot of pain, again this must beage-appropriate and to a level of detail that the individual can cope with at that point in time. Storybooks for children to help adults explain about death or illness of a parent, informative books to help adults manage their health condition, apps to track diabetes or manage mental well-being are among the wide range of resources that an experienced practitioner can access and provide when appropriate to their patient.
The UK has a complex, strained and fragmented healthcare system, incorporating GP practices, hospitals and clinics, social services as well as services provided by some of the large charities such as Macmillan, British Heart Foundation and Maggies. This becomes even more complex when we consider all different life stages from maternity, children, adults and elderly as well as all the different heath categories, such as oncology, cardiac, mental health and neurology.
It’s not surprising that most people don’t know what is available to them and therefore don’t know to ask. Therefore a support service with an expert understanding of all that is available can be a godsend to help families navigate the system and be empowered to request relevant services in a timely fashion
The little things
At RedArc Nurses, we are often surprised by the things that make a real difference to people. Once the long-term support of a trusted nurse is in place and all the practical things have been organised through the NHS or other channels, there are often other things that hold people back, frequently relating to regaining independence and self-esteem. A few examples of things we have arranged or sourced are:
- The loan of a hospital bed to enable an ill mother to feed her baby comfortably at home
- A car seat for a disabled child
- Talking microwave for a blind mum
- Camouflage make up for severe facial scarring
- A hairdresser who would colour hair following chemotherapy
- Heart monitor that synchs to a phone
- Portable blood analysis machine to allow a man to get back to work
- Visual “doorbell” alarm for deaf patient
- Recipes for a bereaved man
- Dancing lessons for a bereaved and isolated lady
When something bad happens, people are, not surprisingly, usually very distressed and often don’t take in all the information they have been told. In the days and weeks following an event, many people find themselves very worried and anxious, unsure of what the future will hold and how to take control of the situation.
By providing tailored, practical advice and emotional support alongside financial protection, insurers can play a vital role in helping their customers at vulnerable times in their and their families’ lives. Such help makes a huge difference to the individuals themselves but also engenders loyalty and trust to the insurer who makes it available.