Working Together as Part of a Care Team
Building a relationship between family, aide, and loved one takes a great deal of work, communication and care. It is important that family members help the aide get to know your loved one, their likes and dislikes, and equally important that the family members get to know the aide as an individual. Investing effort in building such a relationship can help ensure a successful outcome.
This dialogue should begin the moment the aide enters the home. Discuss who makes up the care team and the roles of the participating individuals, including the family members, aide, and the individual living with dementia. This is the foundation of the care partnership and helps foster open communication. Keep in mind that the goal is to collaborate on cultivating an environment that will foster the best possible quality of life for your loved one.
Here are some tips for developing a care partnership:
Clarify the Purpose: Set a time to discuss the roles and expectations of one another. Clarify the tasks the aide can perform.
Know the Person: To truly get to know the person that is being cared for, it is important to learn their likes and dislikes, as well as other preferences, with regard to bathing (e.g., shower or bath, morning or evening) eating (e.g., favorite foods, mealtime routines), and grooming. In addition, work with the aide to understand what makes your loved one who they are—now and before the illness. For example, share information about their leisure interests, hobbies and values. This can help to create a stronger connection between the aide and your loved one. As the disease progresses, understand that a person’s likes and dislikes may also change, and these changes should be communicated to the care team.
Communicate: Communication is key. To ensure the lines of communication remain open, regularly schedule specific times for the care team to speak. Consider creating a communication book, or journal, that can help ensure everyone is on the same page. Simply write a brief synopsis of how your loved one is doing, and include any changes in status, such as being sick, or changes in medication, diet and sleep patterns. This information will help all care partners customize the day’s care plan.
Be open and flexible: Don’t get stuck in a routine! Understand that the individual with dementia may not be as able to adapt to changes as the family and aide can be, so be willing to be flexible and explore new techniques. Always keep the individual’s well-being at the forefront of decision-making and work together to ensure they are living a life that is meaningful to them.