Case Management

Mentor moment: Caregivers and transitions

Case Management Weekly, September 12, 2012

For children, caregivers are treated as an integral part of the clinical care process. In the healthcare system for adults, however, family and friends who give of themselves as caregivers are the unsung heroes. Too often, they play an unrecognized, solitary role in managing the complex process of transition.

 Caregivers can be the only ones coordinating the process of accessing care from a multitude of providers and ensuring patients receive needed treatments. They are also a critical information conduit among providers who do not communicate with one another. Caregivers are sometimes the only ones who recognize when care plans conflict. The clinical care process demands even more from caregivers as aging patients are discharged from hospitals with chronic care needs. 

Active patient and caregiver participation in the transition requires investing in their knowledge base. Education related to the tasks they are required to perform could increase confidence and decrease stress. Caregivers often leave the hospital panicked by the complex responsibilities they are ill prepared to assume, yet many are afraid to admit their limitations. 

Therefore, the first step for healthcare professionals should be to assess the abilities of the caregiver. 

Editor’s note: This article is adapted from Reducing Readmissions: A Blueprint for Improving Care Transitions published by HCPro, Inc.

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