No matter what kind of support you provide, caregiving is a journey with twists and turns along the way. Circumstances change. Care needs change. Options for care change.
Often knowing where you are, where you want to be, and having a caregiver action plan, plus the necessary tools to navigate the winds of change, can help maintain and improve your caregiving experience.
Just like in many aspects of our life, one way of staying on course and reaching our destination is by setting clear and attainable goals for ourselves. Caregiving is no different.
Benefits of a caregiver action plan
Just like in many aspects of our life, one way of staying on course and reaching our destination is by setting clear and attainable goals for ourselves. Caregiving is no different. Setting personal and professional caregiver goals can lead to benefits and rewards for you and the person you are caring for. Your caregiver action plan will help ensure:
- Clarity and focus - Knowing your caregiver goals will help define the steps you need to take to achieve them.
- Optimized resources - Placing your resources behind what you really want to do/need, rather than on things you are doing by default or by deflection, will help you make better use of often limited resources.
- Improved use of your time - Of course time is a resource, but it deserves special consideration because it is so important. As Peter Drucker says: “If you want to improve how you manage time - stop doing what doesn’t need to be done!”
- Peace of mind - Too often you can have many things on your mind. Writing down your caregiver goals can help you take all of those ideas, apply perspective and priority, then galvanize you into commitment and action.
- Focused decision making - Knowing what you are trying to do means that you can now ask: “Does this activity get me closer to my goal?”
- Measurable results - Exploring and setting realistic and clear caregiver goals allows you to measure how well you are moving towards achieving them and gives you things to celebrate.
- Freedom of thought - Setting goals often helps to release your creative energies and allows you to see solutions in problems you never saw before.
- Enhanced communication - Having a caregiver support plan enables you to clarify with other people what you are trying to do, and therefore what they need to do to contribute or support you.
Caregiving is only one of many roles, relationships, and responsibilities you have that requires focus, care and attention. Whether it’s a goal, intention or action - knowing your purpose and making a caregiver plan is truly a very easy process and a simple strategy that can be applied to any aspect of your life.
Goals can be big, like bringing your dad home from the hospital after a stroke, or small like taking an extra 5 minutes on the phone with a sick mom. Caregiver goals can also be long-term, like downsizing, or short-term, like making a new diabetic meal by the end of the week. They can involve accomplishing a task, like disposing all of your wife’s old medication, or overcoming a fear such as talking to your parents about their end of life wishes.
Let's get started.
Steps to achieving your goals
1. Set your caregiver goals and objectives
Ask yourself…“Where am I now and where do I want to be?”
- What EXACTLY do you want to achieve?
- How and when will you know you have achieved the goal?
- Is this caregiver goal realistic with the time, effort and resources you have available?
- What is really exciting about this goal for you? Why is it important to you?
2. Explore YOUR options
- What specifically have you done so far? What worked and what didn’t?
- What research could you do to help you find the first (or next) step?
- What do you need to do before you do anything else?
- Who else could you ask for help?
Explore YOUR road blocks:
- What are your potential obstacles for not accomplishing your goal?
- What are the solutions to get you through, over and beyond them?
3. Make YOUR caregiver action plan
Write it down…
- What would be the smallest or easiest first step for you?
- Which options or actions grab you?
- Who else could help you in completing your actions?
- What’s one action you could take in the next 10 minutes?
- What are the three actions you could take that would make the most sense this week?
4. Take action
How are you going to stay motivated and committed:
- Dare to declare: Who are you going to ask for help and how can they support you?
- Write it down and post it: Where are you going to write and post your action plan?
- Be ready for setbacks: How do you normally respond to set backs? How are you going to respond differently this time?
- How will you feel after you have taken your actions?
- How will you reward yourself?
5. Evaluate your caregiver goals
- Did you accomplish what you set-out to achieve? Score 1-10
- The “wins” for me (accomplishments, positive changes)
- What I didn’t get done, but wanted to
- The challenges and concerns I am facing now…
- The opportunities, which are available to me right now…
- Do I need to set new caregiver goals?
Strategies for sticking with your caregiver plan of action
Write your goals down
Did you know that 95 per cent of goals are accomplished when they are written down? For example, you can:
- Write them down in your journal
- Write them on a sticky note and place it somewhere visible
- Set a reminder in your calendar
Share your caregiver goals with others
Your caregiver goals and objectives will also be more successfully accomplished if they are shared with others. Dare to declare your goals by developing a caregiver support plan!
Consider sharing your goals with someone supportive who will hold you accountable and provide you with healthy feedback and encouragement.
Rewarding yourself once you’ve hit a milestone or accomplished a goal will also help you to stay motivated and feel wonderful.
- Take a set amount of time just for yourself to do whatever your little heart desires.
- Have your favorite meal or treat.
- If you have a house full of noise, book yourself a room at a quiet resort or bed and breakfast.
- Buy a book or two that have been on your wish list.
- Buy a small treasure you have had your eye on.
- Call your favourite friend and make a date to spend time together.
- Spend some quality time with the one you care for.
Planning for set-backs
Keeping your expectations realistic and avoiding self-defeat and judgement are critical when executing your caregiver goals and objectives. Beating up on yourself will only diminish your self-esteem and energy. Instead, assume you will slip up and plan for it accordingly. This will help you get back on track quickly, which is a key component of success in any endeavor.
When it comes to getting things done - which caregiving requires a lot of - the first thing you have to do is get it all out of your head and capture it somewhere. Your brain is not meant to hold all of the stuff you have (or want) to do, and keeping it all up in there can create a sense of chaos, frustration and fear.
One great way of getting it all out is to do a “brain dump.” A brain dump is a strategy to help you get all of the clutter and thoughts out of your head, which can prevent you from thinking clearly and make you feel overwhelmed and stressed. By taking everything out of your head and putting it on paper, you should be able to keep moving forward instead of being stuck in the chaos and always looking back to see what might have slipped through the cracks.
Take some time to do your own brain dump and notice what is on your list:
- Is there anything that you can scratch off?
- What is important and what is not?
- Can you prioritize the important things?
- Is there anything on your list that you could accomplish today, tomorrow or in a week? If so take some time and work through your caregiver plan of action carefully.
Whether your caregiver goals are personal or professional, don’t forget to set some strategies to ensure your caregiver action plan is successful!! See also our article on developing an advanced care plan.