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Keeping Mum#4: A Company for Mum and Dad – any other business?

How can families best organise themselves to support elderly parents and relatives? Establishing a Company of Mum and Dad could be the way forward – plus under the current rules you might be able to meet for a business lunch….

The business lunch is literally back in business, as one of the more curious anomalies in the Govt’s current tiered restrictions.  People from different households are able to continue to meet for a business lunch (and presumably a working dinner) inside bars and restaurants in tiers 2 and 3.

The rationale is to enable freelancers and those particularly isolated whilst working from home to continue to meet.  It must also be a tiny bit of a lifeline for the hospitality sector in an otherwise desperately bleak time.

What is the actual definition of a business lunch or dinner?  What should the nature of the business discussion be? Is a restaurant manager going to grill customers about their living arrangements to check that it is indeed a business outing?  Government guidance puts the onus firmly on the general public to observe the rules, with fines starting from £100 and doubling for every transgression to a maximum of £6,400 – which would be quite a hefty addition to any restaurant bill.

Without wishing to put ideas into anyones heads about using the business lunch as an opportunity for possibly slightly less than business reasons, it got us thinking about one of the questions we are most often asked at Age Space.  How should families work well together to support parents and relatives as they become more frail and need more help?

Often with emotions running high, and when big family decisions need to be made, particularly around money, the family home, the type of care etc, the situation can become very fraught.  It gets more complicated when family members live in different parts of the world, have different relationships with their parents and eachother, and different views on what should or shouldn’t be done for the best.

The best solution we have come across to try and minimise the potential for angst is for families to think of themselves as the management team of an organisation – The Company of Mum and Dad.  The advice is to agree different roles for family members roles that play to their availability, expertise and interest, and importantly to what is needed.  Meet regularly and run it like an actual meeting with an agenda, everyone reporting back on their particular area, and together discussing new concerns.

In this way it may therefore be easier for a brother who lives in Australia to manage the finances; for a sister who lives closest to parents to look after the house; and for someone else with time and enthusiasm to manage the care aspects.  Grandchildren can be in charge of the tech and entertainment. 

Of course, all of this could and should happen without taking up the opportunity of a business lunch.  So, in terms of following the rules I’m suggesting a regular virtual business lunch, and with this in mind, have considered some job titles that might be useful for a fruitful discussion about The Company of Mum and Dad:  Head of Leisure Services (in charge of holidays, respite care, outings and fun);  Director of Customer Services (responsible for making decisions about care),  Concierge (in charge of the home); Finance Director (obvs),  Medical Director (also obvs), Operations Director (responsible for smooth running of all departments) and not forgetting the all important Chief Technology Officer who should certainly prioritise setting up the family zoom meetings.  Any other business?

Annabel James is founder of All views are my own.


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