Sunday, February 28, 2016

Caregiver Diversity

So often I write a post and other important subjects jump into my head.  There are endless amounts of discussion that could take place about so many things.  This might be a good time to remind you that most of my posts are based on my own experiences which have developed into opinions.

A previous post talks about the importance of assembling a good team of caregivers.  To take that one step further I believe that having a DIVERSE team is key.  And what I mean by diversity is that there should be a variety of separate entities involved in the care of your person in need.  In my opinion, if avoidable, all things should not be done and controlled through a single agency.

Lets use Tyler as an example.  He wakes up in the morning under the care of his residential (and "primary") home caregivers.  5 days per week he is taken to his day program which is a completely separate entity altogether.  He has a Case Manager that works for yet a different entity and acts as an independent set of eyes when she visits Tyler in either of his 2 regular setting.  Then he goes to church activities Thursday and Sunday where his pastor is a neighbor and friend to the family.  Add to this his doctors and even the lady that cuts his hair (and who adores him) who see him on a regular basis.

As with everything, there is upside to this strategy as well as downside.  The downside is it takes additional coordination and communication to maintain good relationships and there is always a risk of there being too many cooks in the kitchen.  But I think the upsides are worth the risk.

Many of his team members have gotten to know Tyler previous to his transition.  So, in effect, they know his "baseline", or what are normal reactions for him.  Because of this, they know when he is feeling ok, and when he isn't.  This is of great value because it makes a red flag stand out.  This strategy also provides a natural check-and-balance that I believe to be healthy.  It maintains an accountability level for everyone which protects Tyler's best interest.  After all, Tyler cannot speak for himself.  He cannot report something or someone who is not acting in his best interest.  So our responsibility to him is to create an environment that has some built-in protections.

The truth is that no matter what we do as caregivers there are no guarantees or absolutes.  As much as we love our person in need, we cannot be everywhere.  But we can do things to put the odds in their favor, most importantly is creating not only a team of caring people, but caring people who answer to people of diverse associations.

Be well and good luck.  Tom

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  1. Great input Tom. I have enjoyed reading your posts about your experiences with Tyler. In regards to your comments above, I can speak to his participation in the Worship services that he attends. On Thursday evening, it is a great time of fellowship which we call Exceptional Grace which is very much geared towards individuals and families of individuals who want to worship as a peer group. We have a great deal of fun, sing, read scriptures (many with assistance), and have a great time of "fellowship" which is so important. When Tyler comes to our Sunday Worship, he and other individuals have the opportunity for not only an activity, but assimilation with a family of folks that are focused on Worshiping God and are so excited to have been able to accept him into the family. Here he is able to get to interact with many folks who look forward to seeing him and talking to him each week. We design the service to be visually stimulating for him and others which may require that assistance as well as inject a lot of music. Even though our time with Tyler is not as "caregivers" we are able to hopefully make a big impact on him through giving him care. We do that in the form of love. He's a great person, and we know that you have surrounded him with the right team of folks to give him a very wonderful life experience. Thanks Tom!


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