Family Caregivers


Next Step in Care is designed to help you work better with the health care professionals taking care of your family member and to plan and carry out smoother transitions. Use this website to make sure you ask all the important questions, get complete answers, and make the best transition plan possible.

All guides and checklists are available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Russian.

Some of the information is important in all settings: for example, the guide to HIPAA (the federal privacy regulations) and medication management.

Taking care of an ill or frail family member is a hard job wherever you do it—at home, in a hospital, in a rehab unit, or in a long-term nursing home. Your first experience of caregiving may follow a crisis, such as a stroke or hip fracture, or it may be a slow process as your family member gradually declines.

Whatever the situation or the timing, many family caregivers find that a change in care setting, called a transition in care, is upsetting, disruptive, and confusing. Each transition brings new providers, new rules and regulations, new financial requirements, and new care plans. Often staff are too busy to explain what is going to happen, and you may be too concerned about your family member’s immediate condition to ask a lot of questions about anything else. You will feel more confident if you have a basic understanding of how things are expected to work in the new setting, and a better chance of reducing both your family member’s anxiety and your own.

Everyone approaches transitions differently. Some family caregivers handle crises very well, and others are quickly overwhelmed. You need to find the best way to handle transitions for yourself and your family member, and to enlist the support of others through a difficult time. No two transition experiences are exactly the same, and there is no single pathway to follow. Next Step in Care’s guides and other materials will help you get oriented, whatever your starting point and stops along the way. The materials are organized by the most frequent transitions, starting from hospital, rehab setting, or home. You can follow one path or you can skip around. You can look at the complete list of guides or pick a specific transition. Find the way that works best for you.