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Involving Family in the Plan of Care for Your Loved One
In caring for your loved one in their elder years, it may seem that having a large family would be helpful. In most cases, it is. In some cases, it can complicate the situation, depending on the relationship between family members. Family members will need to work together cooperatively in creating the most appropriate plan of care for their loved one. Holding a family care plan meeting is one of the ways this can be accomplished.
Who Should Attend A Care Meeting
As always, be sure to include your loved one, if able. Everyone involved in the care of your loved one can contribute at a care plan meeting. In addition to family members, remember to invite close friends who are involved with care, as well as your home care agency nurse. The nurse’s role at the meeting can be to answer questions, give a clear picture of what kind of care is needed, and suggest ways to provide the appropriate care. The nurse can also help mediate if there are difficult dynamics between some family members.
How to Prepare for the Care Plan Meeting
Prepare an agenda, then arrange a date and location for the meeting. The location should be a neutral setting, convenient as possible for everyone, and offer little distraction. If someone can’t make it, make sure they can be included either by conference call, speaker phone, or video conferencing, such as Skype.
The agenda for the first care plan meeting might include topics such as:
- The overall health status of your loved one
- What health changes occurred since the last meeting
- What the current daily caregiving needs are
- Which family members are available to help, how/what are they willing to contribute?
- What gaps in family care need to be filled with a home care agency caregiver?
If there are difficult dynamics within your family, try these communication tips:
- Leave out the words “should” and “you” as much as possible. These words tend to put people on the defensive. Try saying, “I need more help.” versus “You should help me more.”
- If you use the word “you”, don’t use it in the beginning of a sentence. Doing so is equivalent to blatantly pointing at some one. Instead of saying, “You always say how scared you are.” try, “I hear how scared you are.”
A successful family meeting gives everyone a chance to be heard. Some may be able to contribute more than others, and that’s ok. Keep in mind that each person does the best they can, and each person has different ways of balancing their lives with their schedules, strengths, and weaknesses. See the gifts each person has to offer, and allow them to use their strengths in helping care for their loved one.
Closing the Meeting
At the conclusion of the meeting, make sure everyone has a clear understanding of the plan of care. Ask the attending in-home caregiver to send a copy of the care plan to each person at the meeting. It’s up to you and your family when you’d like to schedule the next meeting. Would you like to have a regular meeting about every 3 to 4 months, or just when there’s a change in care status? Be sure your preference gets written on the care plan.
What is it like when your family gets together to talk about important things such as care planning? What do you do to support each other?