A good care plan requires that the person receiving care has given you permission to provide care through consent or advance directives—and it requires that you understand the person and their issues and this understanding is reflected in your assessment. A good care plan leads to a good care giving experience, for you and the person receiving your care. A good care plan helps to ensure that you and the person receiving your care maintain the highest quality of life possible through-out the care giving experience.
There are four factors to consider once you are ready to develop the care plan. If they sound familiar, they are. These are the same factors to consider when looking for a long-term care option.
- Personal resources
- Community resources
Needs: Some needs are obvious while others are more subtle. Mom may need help getting groceries, running errands or getting to the doctor. She may no longer be able to bathe, dress or walk without some assistance. Dad may no longer be able handle household chores, manage finances, or drive. On the surface the solutions are obvious. However, people have other, more subtle needs, such as feeling competent, having a sense of purpose and self-efficacy, having fun—finding enjoyment in life, and these are equally important. The best care plan will address the specific outward needs such as getting in the groceries for Mom or arranging for transportation for Dad while preserving their feelings of competence, sense of purpose, self-efficacy and enjoyment in life to the extent possible. This leads to the next consideration, personal preferences.
Preferences: The best care plans are developed with the person receiving care, whenever possible, taking into account their preferences. For example, if Mom never liked shopping for groceries she might be happy if you arranged to have her groceries delivered, assuming there is such a service where she lives. However, if Mom liked that shopping experience a better solution would be to take her to the market or to arrange for someone else to do that so that she is able to continue to experience this pleasurable activity—again, if this is possible. You may not always be able to satisfy a preference but you can recognize and acknowledge its’ importance. I have found that most people will accept a second or third choice option if they realize that you know and value what they really want but there is no practical way for you to provide it.
Personal resources: Resources make a tremendous difference. And by resources I am talking about both financial resources and personal resources, such as family and friends. You are most valuable when you provide quality support such as social engagement, care advocacy and oversight. Using financial resources to pay for other services is a good investment. Even if financial resources are limited there may be other family members or friends who you can enlist to help with the care. Do not try to do it all yourself if there is help available. The end result of pulling in others is a better experience for you—it will conserve your resources and energy—and for the person receiving care, who will benefit from fresh faces. The less overburdened you are the better the care you will be able to give. No one benefits from a tired or resentful care giver.
Community resources: Some communities have more resources than others. By resources I mean community centers, senior centers, health care and social service agencies, adult day care, entertainment, opportunities for engagement. Urban and suburban areas are most likely to have delivery options for groceries, cleaning and laundry, restaurants, and services to provide home cleaning and landscape maintenance as well as home care. If you and the person receiving care live in a resource rich community you will be able to incorporate these into the care plan to enhance the day to day life of the person receiving your care.
In my next posts I will develop a variety of care plans based on these principals to provide concrete examples of how to use these concepts to put together a care plan that works for the person receiving your care and for you.