Once you have chosen a caregiver for your senior loved one, part of establishing a positive working relationship and ensuring that an appropriate, consistent level of care is given is to ensure that expectations are clear and that the care provider has the tools needed to perform his or her duties.
To make sure there is a smooth transition when switching care providers or using a caregiving professional for the first time, the first step is to discuss topics relevant to the senior’s particular situation and to answer any questions the caregiver may have.
Below you will find five topics that should be discussed early on with a new caregiver.
It is very important to make sure that both parties have a clear understanding of the different caregiving duties and responsibilities that will and will not be assigned to the new caregiver. This will avoid confusion and will help ensure continuity of care.
Giving the new caregiver a list of people to contact in case of an emergency, as well as whom to contact with non-emergency questions that might come up is important. This list should include the senior’s medical care professionals, nearby family members and friends and any other people who can respond quickly in an emergency situation.
While you might be the primary contact for the caregiver, keep in mind that there may be times when the new caregiver won’t be able to reach you so it is important to list other emergency contacts as well.
Prepare the senior’s medications and supplements prior to talking to the new caregivers to discuss dosages and schedules. Make sure that each medication, vitamin or supplement is clearly marked. It is also a good idea to create a comprehensive list with the details as to when each medication or medicine is to be administered and the amount or dosage to be given. Keep a copy of this medication list for your records, and give a copy to the new caregiver.
This discussion should begin with the most important aspects of the senior’s diet and dietary restrictions, such as food allergies and sensitivities. Be clear with the caregiver about which foods or drinks can never be given to the senior and which foods or beverages are okay on occasion.
Also discuss signs and symptoms to look for in case of accidental consumption of a food that should be avoided. This is also a good time to talk about the senior’s favorite meals, as well as other preferences, such as if he or she likes to drink tea in the afternoon or if there is a special treat he or she likes to indulge in on occasion.
It will be helpful if the new caregiver is aware of the senior’s favorite activities to do around the house, as well as his or her favorite places to go to. This may include a list of favorite television shows, regular phone calls with friends, weekly gatherings to play board games, working on jigsaw puzzles or taking morning walks.
The caregiver also needs to be aware of the senior’s exercise needs and abilities. For example, should the caregiver encourage the senior to pursue exercise through walking or gardening? Is the senior able to walk long distances if they take a trip to a mall or park?
Discuss these topics with your new caregiver to ensure that expectations are clear and to make sure the senior’s caregiving needs will be met. This is the surest way to build a foundation for a positive caregiving experience for you, the senior and the new caregiver.
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