Next Step in Care: Family Caregivers & Health Care Professionals Working Together

For Health Care Providers

Identifying Family Caregivers

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

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