Practical resources to help family caregivers in the midst of caring for someone

Partnering with health care professionals

Health care partnering is essential to successful home care. As a caregiver, you are an important part of the health care team. It’s a big job – 80 per cent of patient care is given by informal or family caregivers in the community so you are the eyes, ears, and hands for health care professionals.

The importance of family involvement in patient care is greatly appreciated as it helps increase the health care team’s knowledge of the care recipient’s background and living environment. This is necessary information that will greatly inform the team’s decision-making regarding care.

In turn, health care partnering means that you will feel less alone and isolated with the responsibilities of caregiving. Additionally, you will be more informed and confident in your caregiving role and prepared for the future.

As a partner with health care providers, you, as the primary caregiver, may become the:

  • Communicator
  • Coordinator
  • Advocate
  • Decision Maker
  • Coach

Tips for building a positive relationship with health care teams

Utilize these tips to assist both you and the person in your care:

  1. Clearly and respectfully communicate the care recipient’s wants, needs, progress, and challenges to the health care team.
  2. Write down any questions or concerns that you or the care recipient may have and bring these notes to the appointments with your health care partners.
  3. Keep a folder of the care recipient’s health information including previous appointment notes with a list of all current medications (including vitamins) and allergies.
  4. Share information with the health care team about any pain or side effects the care recipient is experiencing.
  5. Ask lots of questions for ideas, information, and help on how to effectively provide care.
  6. Use clear, constructive communication when interacting with members of the health care team. Know your strengths and limitations – discuss these openly with the health care partners.

5 questions to ask health care professionals about support for you as a caregiver

Consider asking these questions of the health care providers, to help them support you, the caregiver.

  • What do you know about my caregiving situation?

Your health care providers can provide support to you if they know about your situation. Therefore, as you feel comfortable, let them know about things such as:

    • Your relationship to the person you are caring for and your living arrangements
    • Any cultural information and preferences
    • Relevant details about family dynamics
    • Your capacity to provide care
  • Are you able to connect me with others who are or may have been in a caregiver situation like mine?

Many caregivers find it helpful to talk to other caregivers about their experiences, either in a group or one-on-one. To help you think about whether this would be helpful for you, or to find out where to go, make sure to partner with your health care providers and ask about support groups or other ways you may connect and share your experiences.

  • Do you have suggestions on how I can build my confidence and improve my caregiving knowledge and skills?

Sometimes caregivers worry about their skill level, frustrations, whether they are “caring enough,” or whether they are caring in “the right way.” With health care partnering, your health care providers can offer you encouragement, reassurance, useful tips, and strategies for your caregiving. To help them help you, be sure to tell them about your current mood, comfort levels, and preferences regarding the way they would care for you.

  • What role do you play and how do you communicate and coordinate with other health care partners involved with the person needing home care?

Just like all of us who work in health care, caregivers can get confused about the health care system (e.g. regarding who is doing what vs. who should be doing what). Make sure you understand from your health care providers:

    • What type of health care provider they are and how to contact them
    • How they feel they can best support you
  • Are you able to help me arrange things like day programs and relief or respite services so I can better take care of the person in my care?

Caregiving can be full of joy but it can also be emotionally draining, physically exhausting, and take you away from caring for yourself. A couple of strategies to relieve these more negative feelings are obtaining respite care for you as the caregiver and taking regular breaks from your daily routine, either with your care recipient or without.




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