Thursday, November 12, 2015

Ten Things Caregivers Deserve from their Healthcare Providers: A Nurse’s Wish List

The medicine has become a bewildering world for both patients and their families. Often they endure as much suffering from medical procedures and drugs as they do from their disease or disability. Our responsibility as healthcare providers is to mitigate their pain as much as possible as we provide medical care.

This November, as we celebrate National Family Caregiver’s Month, we’re offering ten ways that healthcare providers can relieve the stress caregivers endure as they care for their loved ones.

As a nurse and full-time caregiver myself, here is my wish list of what caregivers everywhere deserve:

1. Two ears, turned all the way up.

Someone to listen is often the most important need of the caregiving family. If we are paying attention, the family will tell us what they need. Sometimes it’s not what they called about.

2. A teamwork approach. 

Acknowledge their knowledge. We may think we know what’s best for them. But giving them a voice will help them to both deliver and receive for themselves the best care possible.

3. Real words. 

Our caregivers are intelligent people learning a new language. Sometimes it just takes a bit of translation.

4. A streamlined approach whenever possible. 

A lot of unorganized information thrown at a person is overwhelming, as is the stress of trying to negotiate the bewildering world of programs. Help them target what may work best for their situation.

5. Everyone on the same page. 

It’s frustrating to call three different times and get three different answers. Knowledgeable medical staff is a must.

6. Longsuffering. 

Have patience with those struggling to grasp medication changes, physical therapy orders, or application instructions. The person we’re talking to may have just been up all night with an ailing spouse or child. They may be elderly themselves and dealing with their own health issues. You may be the only person they can vent to.

7. The ability to step down from the soapbox.

It’s important to resist projecting our own agenda into their situation. Just give them what they need. 

8. Professionalism.

Give the family the dignity they deserve.

9. Empathy, not sympathy.

They should feel better after talking to their healthcare provider, not worse. We want them empowered, not pitied.

10. Quick response time.

Don’t leave them hanging without some resolution.

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