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How To Do Things

Helping you Know How to do Things

Learning How to Do Things on Your Own 

     The more you know how to do things, the better prepared you are to face what is ahead when alone. No one expects you to be an expert; however, caregivers perform more clinical care at home now than ever before.

Care at Home is More Complex

     A report co-sponsored by AARP and the National Alliance for Caregiving found a significant increase in the degree of illness of those receiving care at home since 2015. Related to that, caregivers showed a corresponding rise in declining health related to caregiving activities.

Tasks Required are Same as Hospital Procedures

     With the increase in family members’ complicated care, caregivers must learn how to manage IV equipment, monitor respirators, provide home dialysis, put in tubes, and take them out again. The expectations for hospital and home care seem almost the same at times.

Caregivers need help learning how to do things when they are discharged from medical care.

Caregiving is a 24/7 Job    

     Though family caregivers become semi-experts after many weeks of performing homecare duties, they initially feel overwhelmed and alone. Home health agencies provide fantastic support, but their employees are in the family’s home, maybe an hour.  After that hour, the family is on their own.  If there is a problem, they “wing it” until someone calls them back. Family members are also not professionally trained caregivers. When learning a new skill, it helps to have a coach or instructor available to provide feedback and support when you need it.

     Caregivers need someplace to go where they can learn how to adapt a situation to the home environment. If they had someone to ask what to do about situations or where to go for information, it would help to feel they were not alone.  Just knowing someone else understood their problem would help provide some degree of reassurance and peace. It’s that sense of peace that I want to help them obtain with this website–a “connection” that says they are not alone.

Resources on How to do Things When you Need Them Most

     Throughout this website, you will find information about how to do things that caregivers face daily at home. Sometimes it’s information about how to perform the treatment. On other pages, you’ll find details about medical conditions. You might read about how to identify warning signs of danger so you know when to call the doctor or how to correct a problem when you find it. I’ve shared information on treatments, medications, products that work, what to do, and what not to do.  I’ve covered topics I thought might help a new caregiver with limited knowledge of healthcare. I plan to add more as I hear from readers what they would like to see.

Topic suggestions are welcome.

Family Caregivers Need Help Learning How to Do Things

Family caregivers need help to learn how to do things.

Editorial
Family Members Receive Limited Training on How to do Things Before Discharge Home.

      I have been in healthcare long enough to know that nurses are busy people. Though they prefer spending time with their patients, regulatory requirements make it necessary for them to do a tremendous amount of documentation.  Therefore, a significant amount of their time is spent nursing a computer rather than the patient. The result is less time at the bedside for discharge planning and teaching with family members.

    At best, nurses may get an opportunity to review one or two essential treatment goals with the person sent to take the patient home from the hospital.  However, that person may not be the caregiver; they may be only providing transportation.

     Many times family members cannot come to the hospital for training due to work, home responsibilities, or transportation issues.  No wonder the accepted compromise for providing patient education consistently seems to be handing the patient pre-printed generic health instructions. Too bad that often the handouts don’t fit the patient’s specific circumstances  and are not adapted to make them reflect what needs to be changed.

Caregivers Learn Through Reading Material

     After Lynn’s Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, I was handed five magazines on the subject at a doctor’s appointment and told to call if I had any questions. The doctor spent time during the meeting explaining multiple sclerosis. However, being somewhat numb from the news’s shock, I absorbed little of what I heard. I was a nurse and familiar with the condition and medical terminology. It struck me then, “What if I had no idea what any of these words mean?  It would be like listening to a foreign language.”

 Medical People Speak a Foreign Language

     Many people feel like they have entered a foreign country when interacting with healthcare personnel and programs. I get that. Healthcare has its own language, dress code, rules, and culture. Often when first hearing a difficult diagnosis, the immediate reaction is shocking. The brain shuts down to a narrow focus making it easy to get confused.  If the caregiver is unfamiliar with medical terminology, many words sound similar, and misunderstandings can occur. Therefore, families may find themselves attempting new procedures but with incorrect information because they misunderstood the instructions.

Discharge Instructions Are Not Always Clear

    Most healthcare facilities are accredited by the Joint Commission, which requires patients to receive teaching and discharge instructions before they go home.  However, I usually see pre-printed “one size fits all” forms that are not specific to anyone’s needs. They allow the hospital to check the box for regulations but do you little good. What you need instead is the information accurate to you.  All discharge summary sheets should include the following:

  • a list of discharge medications,
  • treatments,
  • a date for a follow-up appointment,
  • a number to call if you get worse,
  • a summary of your stay/visit.

What’s missing is the detail. You also need to know

  • which medications you received the day of discharge and what you still need to take when you get home,
  • any changes to your medication schedule at home based on this admission,
  • what treatments do you need to do (how often, and how long), and
  • when to call if there’s a problem.
Coming Home is Overwhelming
 

     Once home from the hospital or doctor’s office, you often wonder, “Now what?” You feel overwhelmed by what’s ahead and afraid of doing something wrong and causing harm. It’s scary. In the pages ahead in Becoming a Family Caregiver, you will find help in building the knowledge and skills you need to confidently care for your family member. Here you’ll learn how to do things, why you do them, and what happens when you do. You will see that you’re not alone and find others like yourself. Knowing where to go and what to do will be much easier for you, and if you can’t find what you need, you’ll have someone you can ask—Me!