Not everyone—or every entity—provides care in the same way.
It seems obvious, but every individual has different care needs, even if they have the same illness or require the same services to help with daily activities. Unfortunately many people are treated the same, like a number or list of symptoms, and their particular preferences are completely overlooked. In many cases this type of one-size-fits-all approach to care leads to anger, depression, or isolation and not an improved sense of well-being.
A Person-Directed Approach to Care
It seems obvious that care is directed by the person in need of it, but what it really means to adopt a person-directed approach to care is that the individual has some measure of control over choices made about their care.
When the care is determined from the perspective of the recipient’s unique needs, desires and preferences, it is the beginning of person-directed care. This approach assumes that a person is continuing to grow, rather than just decline with little to offer their community.
With person-directed care, decisions are left up to the care receiver or someone close to him or her as much as realistically possible. In this way, they are respected and continue to have a voice in their own well-being.
Do Unto Others…
Often caregiving needs come on suddenly and a family caregiver must make fast decisions that involve keeping a loved one safe. These are well-meaning, even honorable intentions, but for care that extends over time, it is beneficial to listen and have the individual guide their care when possible.
Think of yourself as a partner in their care, not just you as the giver and them as a receiver. In this way, both of you have something to give, to learn, and receive in the relationship at all times. In some instances a caregiver can render a loved one helpless by insisting on doing everything for them rather than encouraging them to do things in a way that currently works for the individual.
Listen to what your loved one tells you or shows you that they need. If there are concerns about their requests, meet together with their health care provider to have a conversation about it.
Even when someone cannot express themselves to direct his or her own care, a person-centered approach is desirable. Person-centered care involves deeply knowing the individual who needs care. This approach is achieved through communication with the person directly. Sometimes just observing their surroundings and what appears important to them will assist in honoring their choices.
Care is on-going process and the relationship with the person evolves over time. When the time comes for additional assistance, approach it together as a team.
Caregiving is about more than just one person fulfilling a list of a tasks; it’s about human relationships and connection.
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