Care coordination can be frustrating and difficult to maneuver. The traditional lines of communication between a patient's primary care physician and the specialists that they are referred to is, at best, a slow process. Often, however, it doesn't happen at all. Below we will discuss some care coordination tips for the family caregiver.
Importance of Care Coordination
Often caregivers (professional or family) are in the home more frequently than any other member of the health care team. As the eyes and ears, it is important for them to observe and report changes to family members and other medical professionals.
For example, if a new medication is making a senior's stomach queasy, this fact should be noted and relayed to all parties involved. This "normal" symptom could be the beginning signs of a major allergic reaction.
More importantly care coordination among professional care teams allows for right information getting to the right person. Think of the collaboration between a MRI tech and a doctor. One conducts the scan and one interprets the scan. Both are necessary for the final result.
Good care coordination can reduce medication mistakes and hospital readmission. It can also provide peace of mind to family members who are worried about their loved one. That's a win-win for everyone.
Tips for Care Coordination
Care coordination may not be as easy as it sounds. If you are trying to coordinate care as a family caregiver, here are some tips!
Hold a meeting
This meeting should include the patient, their family, any friends that want to be involved with the process and service providers, if possible. The patient's needs and preferences need to be at the head of the conversation (if they are able to communicate them). If there are people who would like to be involved but are not close in distance, consider a Skype call to keep them included.
It is important to communicate all the information to everyone involved. Possible ways to accomplish this would be to send group emails, have an online "group calendar" that active planning members can add appointments/information to, creating a web page or starting a blog.
At Caring Senior Service, we make it easy to record notes about a senior's health condition. Through our proprietary software, Tendio, seniors, family members, and care providers can write and review notes.
Delegating will simplify whose job it will be to fill prescriptions, who was taking dad to the specialist and who was taking the physical therapy appointments. This can be done on a long-term basis; i.e., Susie always handles prescription refills, Dave always takes physical therapy, and Mike always takes specialist appointments or on an as needed basis as things come up.
If there are ever any disagreements, it's important to remember the senior. The patient's preferences, if known, should be taken into consideration. Other options for settling disputes would be to ask a neutral third party like a pastor, professional counselor, or the senior's doctor for advice.
While it may seem overwhelming to start, with a good team of doctors, family and friends, providing great care and support to your loved one can be less of a cumbersome task. There are also outside agencies that can help to ease the process. If you are planning care for a loved one, please contact your local Caring Senior Service for more information.