Making care decisions for the people we love most isn’t easy. There are so many things to take into account, from the type of support a given family needs, to the proximity and affordability of services. In many ways, the factors that went into a good care plan before this crisis still count. In other ways, they need to be adapted for an entirely new COVID-19 reality.
What should you be thinking about where senior care is concerned? First and foremost, take a holistic approach. Building the right care plan isn’t a one-and-done discussion. It’s a collaborative process between the senior, the family and the caregiving team. Above all, care plans should focus on the best ways to support not just lifespan, but healthspan for a specific individual.
Asking these four questions as you work with caregiving teams to create a plan for the senior in your life can be a great way to begin moving forward together:
- What kind of assessment takes place before we sign on?
Questions count. Good care plans are one thing. But great care plans are tailor-made with a specific individual in mind. That starts with a fulsome assessment that asks the right questions about someone’s individual needs, capabilities, health and aspirations. What goals will this care plan achieve? What does good health look like for this individual and equally important: what does happiness look like? Assessments that cover a broad spectrum of factors are the building blocks of any effective care plan. They can – and should – be carried out virtually if the situation necessitates.
- How are caregiver matches made?
Rapport is everything. Great care plans are executed by well-matched caregivers. Finding the right match means working backwards from the intel gathered through the assessment stage. Families should have a range of choices, and the opportunity to interview and connect with caregivers before making a final decision. Will the caregiver be comfortable with this individual’s specific hygiene needs? Are they ready and willing to dive into the occasional game of cards? Getting a full understanding of who you’re going to be working with is the first step to ensuring all of you work well together. That starts with two-way dialogue around your family – and your loved one’s – very specific expectations.
- Does the approach balance cognitive and physical well-being?
Health and happiness go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other, or your care plan simply won’t work. Balanced care methods promote a seamless blend of emotional and physical care. That should cover cognitive stimulation, nutrition, physical activity, a sense of calm, and opportunities for social engagement. How does the care plan you’re building cover those different elements? And does the caregiver you’re working with understand the importance of both? Asking good questions now can help achieve better, happier results later.
- Who will support you as you support them?
Family matters, especially in something as important as senior care. Any care plan that’s going to work will approach caregiving as a family affair, and automatically include clear expectations for how the family partners with the caregiver. How will updates be shared? Who will be responsible for which aspects of care? Asking those questions at the front end and making sure you’re comfortable with means, frequency and scope of communications is critical. That’s true in good times, and even more important in tough times. Nail down the details now.
Delivering the kind of next-level care your loved one deserves can offer greater peace of mind. Understanding the details, and asking the right questions along the way, helps you develop a plan that doesn’t just work efficiently, but also cultivates quality of life. So, don’t hold back. Ask bold questions, get informed, and feel good about the care plan you develop with a loved one in mind.