If family is able and available, family members usually provide the bulk of care for elderly or disabled relatives, but they often require help from in-home care providers in order to maintain their own lives. In order to become a part of the care team as qualified home care providers, it is important that agencies do their best to work with, support, and educate family caregivers for the client to be able to remain safely in their own home. Here are a few ways agencies can work with family caregivers to form care strategies that are best for their relatives.
Work with the family caregiver to evaluate the needs of the client and develop a care plan that best meets those needs. A family caregiver has a unique insight into his or her loved one’s life and condition and can help in-home care providers determine meal plans, necessary home modifications, and other aspects of care that may need to be considered. Remember, it is not only the client who needs the care, and the family member who needs the respite, but also the house that needs to be maintained and the household that needs to be run. There are many ways that someone with community resource knowledge can assist in keeping a loved one at home.
Agencies can offer in-home education for family caregivers. Teaching hands-on skills and providing information on elder health management allows family caregivers to care for their loved ones with knowledge and confidence. Agencies might also consider offering educational seminars to family care providers on topics like fall prevention, meal planning, or therapeutic activities. Bringing outside resources such as home medical or telehealth options can also help to age in place. After all, there are so many new products and possibilities that allow for communication, monitoring and ease of living with disabilities that are now available. The smart agency will keep abreast of new technology and helpful resources.
Help Caregivers Care for Themselves
No one knows more about the long hours and difficulties that accompany home care better than in-home care professionals. Provide family caregivers with advice on combating stress and inform them of the importance of maintaining balance in their lives. Make sure they are aware of your respite care services and how they can help a caregiver “take a breather” from the constant demands of caregiving. Offer to provide extended coverage while they take a vacation. Have this coverage not only cover the client, but also serve as a “surrogate family member” in case of emergency so the regular caregiver can take an extended break without worry of no one being available to handle emergencies should they arise.
Being there for family caregivers in the community can not only ensure that these caregivers are educated in providing proper care to their loved ones, but can also help agencies boost their respite care income and provide cross referrals to other resources that allow the frail or disabled to remain in their own homes.