Caregivers Are Part of the Team

Hello medical professional. Do you see me me over here in the corner in the not too comfortable chair? I’m the one who drove your patient to the hospital today. I’m the one who took time off from work and will be working late tonight as a result.  I’m the one who will sit here for three hours while he receives his treatment.  

You and me, we care for the same patient. I too dispense meds, give injections, change dressings, flush lines, and take vitals. The difference is you get paid and I do not. Your shift ends; mine never does. You are trained and I am not. You are capable and confident while I am unskilled and anxious.

We’re on the same team, medical professional. So next time, why not say hello? Tell me your name and ask me mine. Inquire if there is anything I need. I won’t make unreasonable requests, I promise. I want what you want: the best care for our mutual patient.

A study conducted by the United Hospital Fund and the AARP Public Policy Institute documents the fact that more and more family caregivers perform complex medical/nursing tasks, once provided only in hospitals, at home. Some findings from the study:

  • “Few family caregivers reported receiving assistance and training from health care professionals.”
  • Family caregivers who performed five or more medical/nursing tasks were most likely “to report feeling stressed and worried about making a mistake.”

And some recommendations:

  • Training and supporting family caregivers requires, “A level of teamwork that challenges attitudes and behaviors so firmly entrenched in the current system.”
  • “Individual health care professionals must fundamentally rethink and restructure the way they interact with family caregivers in daily practice.”
  • The healthcare industry should foster, “strong relationships among patients and the healthcare professionals accountable for their care….”




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