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The Empowered Caregiver Blog: Part II-First Impressions

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Becoming an Empowered Caregiver: First Impressions

Of course, we all want the very best possible care for our loved one in a healthcare facility. However, it is important to understand that the best care is not just handed out to each patient. It is up to us to ensure quality care by becoming an empowered caregiver by arming ourselves with information like the importance of a first impression.

Will Rogers of silent movie era fame once said: “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” We’ve all heard something similar. As with other aspects of life, this general rule applies to the healthcare industry and we should remember it when becoming an empowered caregiver. When dealing with health care professionals who will be treating your loved one, it is important for you to set the tone from the very first meeting. While not always the case, if the staff perceives you to be completely dependent on them for even basic healthcare information about your loved one, the likelihood of them receiving the staff’s utmost attention decreases. However, if you make it your business to be well informed about things such as your loved one’s medical record and medications, the likelihood of quality care increases because the staff knows you care and are actively participating in your loved one’s health care plan.

This active, empowered caregiving must start where most things do: the beginning. Here are some ways in which you can let the staff know that you are not going to be a passive observer of your loved one’s care:

  • Be sure to get the full names of everyone you speak to, a brief job description, and how they will interact with your loved one
  • Have a current list of any and all medications your loved one is on, paying particular attention to any recent changes and which doctor prescribed which medication
  • Present to the staff your legal authority to take action- “daughter” or “son” is sufficient if you are next of kin. To do this, present your legal document showing power of attorney or legal guardianship to the staff.
  • Without being rude, on the first meeting make crystal clear your expectation to be informed of any and all changes to your loved one’s health care plan before the changes take place.
  • Perhaps most importantly, be nice. Don’t assume that the health care providers are your enemies; they’re not. The way to truly become an empowered caregiver is to become part of the healthcare team, not the team’s rival. Being part of this team is crucial, but you must also respect the skills of the staff. Gain their respect by staying informed and active in your loved one’s health care. If you show them you want to be an empowered caregiver and stay informed, they will be more inclined to help you do that.

We all only want the best for our loved ones, particularly those in health care facilities. As I hope I’ve made clear in this post, the first step in achieving this goal is to assert yourself as an empowered caregiver from the very start, keeping these suggestions in mind.

Unfortunately, far too often, people in health care facilities receive substandard care or are flat out neglected and abused by those in charge of their well being. If you believe you or your loved one has been neglected or abused while in a health care facility, please contact us online or call us at 800-829-7037 to speak to an attorney today. All consultations are free and confidential. Your loved one deserves the best care available.