6 Tips for Coordinating Care With Friends and Family
Organizing family and friends for caregiving
From holding family planning meetings to running your own blog or website, you can do a variety of things to enlist the support of friends and family -- and keep them informed -- when you're a primary caregiver.
Yet it's not easy managing people, and this is essentially what you're being called on to do -- on top of managing someone's care. Volunteer helpers need coordination and follow-up, as well as updates on how the person in your care is doing. So how can you keep this blessing from becoming a burden? Here are some suggestions that have worked for other families and friends of patients.
Hold a meeting
- A good starting place for organizing care is with the person's family, his close friends, or both. Consult with the person you're caring for about the idea as much as possible, including whom to invite. The goal is to gather those close to him together to review the person's situation and needs, listen to his wishes, and hash out a care plan. (Sometimes the best support group isn't made up of relatives but of friends or a mix of family, friends, and service providers.) It helps to have an agenda and someone in charge. What you're after is a rough outline of who can do what, when, and for how long. This will give you a sense of other resources you'll need to tap, including other friends or paid help such as a visiting nurse, personal care attendant, money management service, or geriatric care manager.
- Holding a meeting is obviously much easier when people live close to each other. But even with geographically scattered families or groups of friends, you can arrange for a conference call or even a teleconference, though you may need special equipment for this. Your long-distance phone company can help you with both. If people in the group have computers, they can teleconference using the free program Skype and an inexpensive headset (if all your computers have cameras, you can even see each other). You can also find numerous free conferencing services by searching online using keywords such as "free conference calls."
- Meetings to coordinate care are an opportunity to share ideas and feelings, but they can become contentious. If the group has a tough time with collaborative decision-making, consider asking a leader from the patient's place of worship, a professional counselor, or a trusted neutral friend to assist.