Family caregiving: a powerful and touching way for you to give back and express all the hope, love, and support that your loved ones have given you when you were younger. Unfortunately, this type of caregiving is also an often underestimated, unappreciated, and misunderstood calling. With the rising costs of long term care and more seniors in need of some sort of support and care, there definitely is a need for family caregivers to step up. But what should these caregivers need to know in order for them to provide the best care for their loved ones? Read on to find out and learn from pointers that will help you be the best caregiver for your family:
1. Determine your needs.
Before plunging into being a family caregiver, you must first assess yourself. After all, family caregiving is a full-time calling, which will affect your daily living and habits. Ask yourself these questions: am I sure that I want to give up my career for my family? Will caring for my family be worth all the sacrifices (personal time and connections, work opportunities, etc.)? What are the changes I need to adapt to in order to properly care for my loved ones?
By first assessing your own care requirements will allow you to then plan and commit to the care tasks; that is called for in being a caregiver. Do this by listing activities (both for you and your loved one) within a given day. Doing so will allow you to see the level of care and assistance that you need to provide.
As you take a look at your needs, you will have a clearer picture of what qualities you need to look for and develop in being a caregiver.
2. Develop a job description.
Create a caregiver’s job description based on your assessed needs to help you get into the persona of being a caregiver. This should include all the tasks that a caregiver needs to carry out. It should also entail the qualifications that a caregiver needs to meet such as certification and certain skills such as driving and cooking.
Considering this calling as a "job" will give you the perspective on how a caregiver should act, and if possible, to seek out additional training and learning for care and support as well.
3. Prepare a contract.
Go the extra mile of considering family caregiving as a career option by drafting a contract. In this document, be sure to include the level of care, the kind of work output that is expected of him or her and for how long the contract will be in effect. Also, state how the caregiver will be reprimanded should he or she should violate any of the rules as an employer. This way, you will be able to identify potential trouble areas that need to be addressed and for you to transition smoothly in providing proper nursing and support.
4. Determine whether to go to an agency or hire privately
There would be times when even you would need additional help to properly care for your family. List down potential caregiver services or agencies that may either provide additional help or, if possible, training for you. Aside from having potential or emergency help ready to contact to, knowing these caregiver services and agencies can further expose you to the industry, which may then give you an idea on how your loved ones should be treated.
5. Conduct an interview
Make sure that your loved ones are informed of your decision to be their caregiver or care coordinator. In order to make better and transparent decisions when it comes to providing support and care, you can ask a couple of other family members to help you evaluate your potential as a caregiver or to assign roles in care coordination.
Before the interview, allow your loved ones (and other family members) to prepare a set of questions that are related to your skills as a caregiver or care team leader. Have them inquire about work background and your intentions. Be sure to have them ask all the appropriate questions in order for them (and consequently, yourself) to assess if your capabilities are substantial enough for the requirements needed to watch over and care for your family.
Apart from that, have them also ask them if there are parts of the job description or contract that concern them. If there are, check if you can meet halfway and revise on some areas if it’s too restrictive for you as a caregiver.
Agencies usually take charge interviewing and screening potential caregivers. In the case of family in-home care, your loved ones conducting an interview will allow your family to effectively plan ahead for long term care.
6. Ask for references
Asking the right questions is not enough. Evidence of good character and the right skills set is central for the peace of mind of everyone in the family. References are a must in the case of hiring private care. In the case of reluctant or estranged parents, it might be worth offering them at least two references that can attest to your own capabilities as a caregiver. It may be awkward, but being transparent and having someone to vouch for your intentions may give your loved ones the peace of mind that you are committed in pursuing this calling and sometimes, applying a business plan to tricky family situations can help to give everyone confidence and comfort.
7. Always be on guard
Being a family caregiver isn’t a walk in the park – this is why there is a need for you to motivate your loved ones to constantly give you feedback on how you watch and care for them. This way, you and your family can closely monitor if you are delivering a good quality of care. It would be better if you develop a system on how to determine if your loved ones are being cared for adequately. Discuss this with your family.
Samantha Stein is an Online Content Manager for ALTCP.org whose works focuses on long term care insurance, finance, elder care and retirement. Her choice to build a writing career on these fields is not merely out of the call of profession. Rather, she decided to pursue these subjects when she saw how being unprepared for long term care and retirement has greatly affected some of her loved ones. Apart from her writing duties, she does volunteer work for various non-profit organizations.