The Care Plan: It’s Time to Get Creative

My last post was all about how you, as a non-professional, can use the processes and tools that care managers use to become a better caregiver—and reduce your level of stress. The only stress greater than the burden of care is the stress of uncertainty. And a care plan reduces uncertainty.

Elsewhere, I have talked about an optimal solution being one where a person’s preferences, needs, financial resources and community resources are met. The same holds true for care plan solutions.

A good care plan has four basic components:

  • Identifies each problem that needs to be addressed;
  • Lists solutions for each problem;
  • Establishes who is responsible for implementing each solution; and,
  • Specifies a time frame by which the solution should be in place.

Let’s look at one problem and how you might address it in a care plan.

Problem # 1: Dad needs meals. Dad lives alone and is no longer able to drive. Without his car, he is unable to get to the store to buy groceries. (I am assuming here that no family member is in a position to provide meals for Dad on a daily basis and that Dad cannot afford a full-time housekeeper or care giver.)

Potential solutions: There are a number of ways to ensure Dad gets his meals depending on his specific situation. You or someone else could drive Dad to the market and help him buy groceries. If Dad is unable or not interested in shopping for himself, someone may need to take on the responsibility of shopping for him. Groceries can also be ordered and delivered. If Dad is unable or unwilling to cook, you might hire a caregiver for a few hours one or two days a week to prepare meals for him. If he can’t afford a private caregiver and no one is available to cook for him, you may need to set up meal delivery from a Meals on Wheels program in your area.

You may end up combining options to see that Dad gets his meals seven days a week: set up meal delivery from Meals on Wheels on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; arrange for a grocery delivery of household supplies, breakfast, snack and lunch items; hire a home maker to come on Tuesdays for four hours and prepare hot meals; arrange for Dad’s friend Bill to take him out for lunch or dinner on Thursdays; and perhaps, you or another family member or friend will commit to inviting him to dinner or cooking for him once or twice a week.

Indeed, there are a number of ways to deal with any one issue. The solution that works will depend on Dad’s preferences, needs, financial resources and community resources.

Preferences:

  • Does Dad want to stay in his home?
  • Would he prefer to move into an environment where the inability to drive is not a problem?

Needs:

  • What are Dad’s functional abilities?
  • Is he able to pick out groceries if he has transportation?
  • Can he cook for himself?

Financial Resources:

  • What can Dad afford?
  • Is he able to pay for a part-time homemaker?
  • Is he able to afford home-delivered groceries?

Community Resources:

  • What services and supports are available where Dad lives;
  • Is there a Meals on Wheels program in Dad’s community?
  • Are there stores or services that deliver groceries in the area?
  • Does he have friends who can take him shopping or out for a meal?
  • Is there family in the area willing to help?

Of course, if Dad is no longer able to drive, there will other issues to address. How will Dad get to his medical appointments? How will he see his friends? What about isolation?

Developing a care plan is important because it forces you, the caregiver and the person in need of care, to think through the problems, find solutions and make arrangements that are ongoing and predictable.

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