Four Tips for Family Caregiving Teams

| By Jodi Horton

Family caregiving teams can be wonderful for individuals because there’s someone else to share your responsibility, but they can also mean hurt feelings, confusion, and miscommunication. Here are five tips to make your family caregiving team run smoother.

  1. Schedule family conferences on a regular basis.

A family conference is helpful to make sure every person is on the same page about the patient’s health status, tasks that need to be completed, and who is responsible for each task. Checking in with each other on a regular basis allows concerns to be heard, lets each person share any caregiving struggles he/she might be having, and provides for regular updates on any changing needs.

  1. Assign roles or tasks to each individual, including a team leader.

Your team leader acts as a point person. He or she always knows what’s going on with the patient, helps keep the flow of information, and can generally keep everyone organized. From there, families may find it easier to dole out tasks or roles to each caregiver. Perhaps one person handles all of the finances for the patient, making sure household bills are paid, keeps track of the insurance statements, etc. Another person may be more comfortable with hands-off tasks, and he/she can pick up groceries, do the laundry, clean house. Giving each person a responsibility ensures that everyone is included.

  1. Respect what each family member is able to contribute.

It’s easy for caregivers to feel like the work may be unevenly divided. However, it’s important to remember that multiple opportunities for caregiving contributions are available. Ask for contributions based on skills and the individual’s relationship with the person receiving the care. Respect one another’s time, and know that sometimes other priorities or needs will pop up. Work together and be flexible during these times.

  1. Use electronic tools to track tasks, appointments, and whose turn it is.

When multiple hands are involved, it’s best that everyone is clear on whose up first, what needs to be done, and what’s already been done. Use your smartphones to sync calendars and to-do lists. Maybe this is done through everyone’s iPhone calendars and a note-sharing app like Evernote. You can also go low-tech for tracking details like sleep schedule and medication management. Keep a clipboard by the bed and a medication log where medicines are stored.

Casa de la Luz Hospice provides hospice care and grief support services to Tucson and its surrounding communities. For more information about our hospice program or our grief support groups, call Casa de la Luz at (520) 544-9890. 

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