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Building a Caregiving Team Part II

Gary Gilles is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in private practice for over 20 years. He is also an adjunct faculty member at the University ...Read More

In part one, we discussed the need to “share the care” so that one person does not have to shoulder the burden of caring for a loved one. We explored how simply asking family members, friends, neighbors and others for help can not only provide needed assistance but give others an opportunity to feel helpful. In this post we get practical. Let’s start with being clear and specific of how we will use this volunteer energy for caregiving needs.

There’s a job for everyone

Once you’ve established several people who are willing to lend a hand with caregiving responsibilities, a care plan needs to be made. Below is a checklist of the most common caregiving tasks that need to be done. Modify the chart below to fit your loved one’s needs. Having a scheduled plan for caregiving tasks can eliminate most of the miscommunication that occurs between care members when working on a team. Be sure to write down your plan and give a final copy to all members of the team. Be sure to include phone numbers and emails of all team members. Here are some of the common tasks a caregiver would perform and a sample chart you can replicate to schedule and plan how these tasks will be accomplished by the members of your care team.

Caregiver Responsibilities Chart

Things to Do Time Required Who Can Help?/How Often?
Changing bed linen    
Giving a bath    
Turning & repositioning    
Getting to the shower or tub    
Meeting bathroom needs    
Dressing & grooming    
Feeding breakfast    
Feeding lunch    
Feeding dinner    
Preparing meals & snacks    
Providing wound care/exercises/therapy/other nursing care    
Giving medications    
Doing laundry    
Shopping for food or other essentials    
Getting patient to the doctor    
Finding information about legal and/or financial issues    
Writing checks/managing finances    
Finding information about community resources and support services    
Caring for house    
Caring for yard    
Caring for automobile    
Caring for other family members    
Time out for religious or social occasions    
Other situation-specific needs/commitments:    

Caring for the care recipient

Sometimes the most overlooked person on the caregiving team is the loved one receiving the care. Whenever possible, involve him or her in caregiving decisions. When your loved one is able to perform some of the tasks which need to be done, let them participate. This helps them to feel useful. It might be as simple as folding napkins for dinner or putting away clean silverware in the drawer. But encourage them to participate in tasks that they are capable of doing.

Also, talk with your loved one about the importance of a team approach to caregiving. Explain that the goal is to provide the best care possible and this means sharing the caregiving responsibilities. Some caregivers are reluctant to receive care from anyone other than the primary caregiver and may resist care from other care team members. These concerns usually stem from fears about being a burden to others and/or losing control of their lives. Talk openly with them about the issues and try to agree on ground rules that everyone can live with.

Community Services That Help with Caregiving

Not all caregivers have access to a willing family or network of friends that they can share the care with. These caregivers must rely primarily on private and public organizations that offer a variety of services in the home and the community. Here are some of the most common options:

Help at Home

  • Home Health Care. Home health care meets health care needs prescribed by a physician and are provided by licensed professionals. This includes skilled nursing care, personal care, rehabilitative therapy, giving medicine, wound care, and other medical help.
  • Home and Personal Care. Home care aides do chores such as cleaning the house, grocery chopping, or laundry. Personal care is non-medical help with activities of daily living (ADLs) such as bathing, dressing, or using the toilet.
  • Meal Services. Home-delivered meal programs offer nutritional meals to those who can no longer shop for groceries or cook.
  • Companion and Telephone Reassurance Services. These are often volunteers who make regular visits or phone calls to those who can’t get out of the house or desire social contact with others.
  • Personal Emergency Response Systems (PERS). A PERS is a simple device worn by a person that enables him or her to call for help in emergencies. When the user pushes the button on the PERS, it sends a message to a hospital or police station. Someone then checks on the person.

Help in the Community

  • Senior Centers. Many communities offer a variety of activities in centers designed for older adults. These include recreation programs, social activities, health screenings and meals.
  • Transportation. Many communities provide transportation to medical appointments, senior centers, or shopping. These services are usually free. Other transportation services, such as discount taxi programs, van services or volunteer drivers are often available as well.
  • Adult Day Centers. For the older person who needs supervised assistance, these centers offer many services in a group setting. Services may include health care, recreation, meals and rehabilitative therapy. While there is usually a cost, many offer sliding rate scales or some financial assistance.
  • Respite Care. Respite care provides time off for family members who care for someone who is ill, injured or frail. It can take place in an adult day center, in the home of the person being cared for or even in a residential setting such as an assisted living facility or nursing home.

Building a care team takes some initiative on your part, but the long-term benefits far outweigh the work involved. As you assemble a care team, make sure that these are people you can communicate with, enjoy working alongside and trust. The right combination of people on your care team can lighten your physical and emotional load while also giving others an opportunity to experience the deep satisfaction that can be part of the caregiving experience.

Keep Reading By Author Gary Gilles, LCPC
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