Doing TWO Assessments
To meet the needs of the whole aging family, the care receiver, and the caregivers, GCMs need to begin assessing the caregiver as well as the care receiver. There is a synergy between the caregiver and client – they are interdependent. If the caregiver is stressed or weak the client does not receive good care. They both suffer without supports that a care manager can give them.
A caregiver assessment helps the GCM see this faltering interdependence by using a caregiver assessment. The National Center on Caregiving at the Family Caregiver Alliance calls this a process gathering information describing the caregiving situation and identifying the family caregivers’ particular problems, needs, resources, and strengths. This means that the care manager can see issues from a caregiver’s perspective and can focus on what supports they need to give them the best care. The GCM compares this to the client’s assessment of needs. The result of doing two assessments is discovering both the client/ care receiver needs and restore health and well-being, prevent poor care, client injury or illness, caregiver burnout, trauma or quiting, and unnecessary placement in a nursing home.
Create a Circle of Care
One resource that a GCM can bring to a caregiving family is what Gail Sheehy calls a circle of care. To create this supportive connection, the GCM needs to take her or his coaching skills and put together a support system around the formerly isolated, solitary family caregiver. The GCM can coach the family caregiver to ask for help so the GCM can assist in reorganizing the family so adult siblings can share in the care of the older client with the identified family caregiver. The GCM is what Sheehy calls a compassionate coach who can help the beleaguered caregiver attract and assemble a platform to keep on giving the care she or he wants to give the aging person.
A circle of care includes emotional resources for the direct family caregiver. These emotional resources could and should include adult siblings. Reconnecting midlife brothers and sisters, through the circle of care, is an important GCM task, as siblings are the longest and deepest relationships in any person’s life. The GCM may have to depend on his or her clinical skills in helping siblings with forgiveness or reconnecting siblings who live long distances apart to add them to a circle of care. Midlife siblings have often spent the last 30 years tending to their own families, so the point of reconnection of midlife brothers and sisters often happens when they are in middle age in the midst of a crisis in parent care. This is where the GCM needs to employ clinical skills in midlife sibling work or to find the resources for the family to help with this healing sibling reconnection.