When you think of the ideas of diversity & inclusion, do you stop to really think what that means in the entire scope of your life and the spaces you occupy? If you are like many (including Xpress staff) and have attended recent DEI (Diversity, Equity & Inclusion) training maybe your eyes were opened to just what diversity and inclusion could mean for you. For me, I was reminded of the need to include those voices that are often not heard and the need for equality and equity for marginalized groups in all spaces. I also started to think about those we serve and I really started to think about the family caregiver and asked myself, when healthcare teams create healthcare plans how do family caregivers get their needs met through the provisions in the plan? How is their input gathered and incorporated in a holistic way that improves outcomes for all?
While it is common to include the caregiver in overall planning, it may be necessary to step back and really understand the impact of healthcare planning for the caregiver and how including them early on in decision-making and giving them a platform to express their own needs can alleviate some of the day to day stressors associated with caregiving or even enhance their day to day tasks for their benefit and the benefit of their loved ones.
It makes sense, right? Especially, since family caregivers often have a unique perspective. They have a firm knowledge of:
- Their patient’s social and medical history
- The patient’s idiosyncrencies; what makes them happy; what makes them unhappy
- Ideas on how to make the patient comfortable
- Likes & dislikes when it comes to food, temperatures and environment
- Temperament, sleep patterns
- Where the patient may or may not need the most help
- How focused/unmotivated the patient is on independence.
When the caregiver is able to provide input he/she can help develop a plan that:
- Enhances the quality of life for the patient
- Enhances the relationship between the caregiver and patient
- Reduces dissatisfaction with the role of caregiving.
- Helps identify the areas where the caregiver may need additional education or resources that could better assist the patient and reduce the stress and emotional pain for caregivers.
Realizing inclusion of the family caregiver in the space of healthcare planning seems like a no-brainer, but too often family caregivers are left without a strong feeling of support that many times leads to anger and emotional distress. When we address the needs of a patient wholly, including addressing the needs of that person’s support system (which includes the family caregiver) we can realize healthy and happy outcomes for all.