Jane Gross’ recent post Seeing the ‘Invisible Patient’ in the “New Old Age” blog of the New York Times discusses how professionals often ignore the needs of caregivers of the elderly because they are focused on their identified patient. As the author states, “Not once in the years I cared for my mother did any of her physicians ask me how I was doing.”
While the article centers on the burdens of caregivers in the community, it got me thinking about whether we’re meeting the needs of families whose loved ones are in long-term care.
What are the burdens of family members in LTC?
Some families have been down a long road of illness with their loved one and are physically and emotionally depleted. Others have had the shock of a sudden shift in the condition of their relative and have been swiftly thrust into the world of LTC. Virtually all of the families are coming into a system that’s new for them and they could use our help in successfully navigating this change.
Benefits to the facility
Addressing the needs of family members can:
• Increase the likelihood of families making positive contributions to the lives of the residents, which is good for the residents and reduces the workload of the staff. If families are purchasing clothes, for example, that’s one less task for staff members.
• Improve satisfaction with our services and increase the chances that they’ll recommend our facility to others.
• Provide a benefit that appeals to the adult children decision-makers and makes our organization more competitive.
Below are some ways to creatively and inexpensively attend to the needs of families: