As people age, it is common to see signs of Alzheimer’s, chronic conditions, and several challenges with mobility. Family members who want the best possible care for their elderly loved ones usually prefer hiring a skilled nursing assistant to improve their quality of life. A sense of belongingness and comfort is very important for seniors, that’s why incorporating family caregivers into the health care team seems to be an excellent choice.
RAND Corporation shares a framework for integrating family caregivers into the health care team, which gives both purpose and map for creating a safer environment for the aging population. The report breaks down barriers faced by caregivers while collaborating with the health care team and solutions to overcome those obstacles.
New practices and policies may be required to overcome several hurdles like rules to recognize and record information related to caregivers and incentives to motivate providers to engage with them. Other recommended strategies include conducting training programs for providers and caregivers for effective communication and collaboration, ultimately nurturing the caregiver integration process.
Further, we will discuss the significance of family caregivers, how COVID-19 has increased their need in the industry, and what efforts can be made to integrate them into the health care team. Let’s get started!
The Importance of Family Caregivers
Family caregivers mainly serve as care coordinators where they are responsible for identifying and helping care recipients at every step of the way. Their role is to assist people with day-to-day activities like cognitive impairments, companionship, personal care, and complex chronic health conditions. Family caregiver integration seems like a wonderful option for effective collaboration, communication, and coordination with organizations and individuals that deliver coordinated care to needful patients.
Skilled nursing assistants spend an adequate amount of time with families and patients in need and put their best efforts into recognizing and fulfilling their daily living requirements. They have direct access to families’ and loved ones’ needs because they interact regularly with them to monitor well-being than would be possible for healthcare providers. That’s why the role is caregivers are gaining more significance these days and healthcare agencies are more than willing to incorporate them into their team to deliver exceptional experiences to patients.
How COVID-19 Pandemic has increased the Need for Family Caregivers?
The COVID-19 outbreak has brought the senior community at more risk of exposure to the serious virus. There are high chances of contamination for seniors living in senior-based institutions as compared to ones who are living in the safety of their homes. Also, preventive measures like social distancing and maintaining personal hygiene make outdoor settings more challenging, especially for vulnerable members of our society i.e. the elderly and disabled population.
All of these factors describe that family caregivers are a much better option to obtain various benefits like self-effectiveness, better quality of life, administration and management of medications, and overall mental and physical well-being. As they meet care recipients more regularly than formal health care professionals, caregivers can effectively track the changes in your loved one’s health and additional caring needs. Especially when nursing assistants work closely with formal care providers, patients can receive better benefits and improve the level of safety as well as the quality of living.
How to Integrate Family Caregivers into Formal Care Team?
Effective communication and accessibility are two essential fundamentals for supporting both caregivers and the patient. A caregiver and family member should have an equal and accurate understanding of their loved ones’ needs to secure the desired level of services and support. In the past couple of years, the U.S. healthcare system is giving as many opportunities as possible for better family caregiver integration.
Most states have implemented the Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable (CARE) Act that makes it necessary for hospitals to keep a record of the family caregivers for patients, consult with patients in need, and provide relevant instructions about tasks that caregivers will need to assist when the patient is discharged.
Here are some efforts to incorporate family caregivers into the health care team:
- Recognize and track accurate information about family caregivers
- Encourage them by providing incentives
- Participate in programs that provide support to the need of vulnerable members
- Execute training programs for caregivers and providers to ensure dynamic communication
- Build and enhance caregiver access to the latest technologies for better integration and knowledge sharing
- A caregiver guide can be used to ensure the safety and well-being of all individual involved
Given the market scenario, there is no denying that healthcare agencies are continuously striving to address the needs of seniors and family caregivers to create a safer and healthier environment for all. When we look ahead, we continue to recognize that caregivers will play a significant role and has been widely appreciated because of their selfless role and support throughout the healthcare community.
In the future, we will see more client-centric understanding and proper implementation for effective caregiver integration into the health care team.