Essential to working with family caregivers is the identification process. Many seriously and chronically ill adults have multiple people interested in their care. Some may be decision-makers, but provide no hands-on care. Some are organizers, and may or may not be decision-makers or provide hands-on assistance. Others do a range (and sometimes all) of the patient's care.
When devising a plan of care, involving the hands-on family caregivers can be critical to the plan's success. For example, if the patient's adult child will be administering medications, then working with that caregiver on the medication regimen - training on medication administration and management, timing of medications to coordinate with the caregiver's schedule - can mean the difference between positive and negative outcomes for the patient. Or if the patient's working spouse is the decision-maker, and has arranged with the neighbor to fix and serve lunch and dinner to the patient, then both the spouse and the neighbor should be trained regarding the patient's no-salt, low protein diet.
If the family caregiver(s) may not be the person at the bedside, or even the next-of-kin on record, how to know who to work with? This guide offers guidence in identifying the family caregiver, and includes a short script for consideration.
Many family caregivers do not identify themselves as "caregivers." This guide can be helpful to those who struggle with this role.
The First Step in Care: Becoming a Family Caregiver