A caregiver’s work is never done. That’s why many seniors living at home end up with multiple caregivers — both family and professional — each with a different set of duties, and often on different days of the week and at different times of day. Successful cooperation among these caregivers requires a senior or her primary family caregiver to clearly outline a caregiver job description for each person involved. This ensures nothing falls through the cracks. Otherwise, one caregiver may assume another has completed a task or that the next caregiver on duty will pick up the slack. Here’s a look at how to create a comprehensive chart of responsibilities that ensures your older loved one gets the best help possible.
Assess the Senior’s Needs
To avoid problems with juggling caregiver duties, channel your inner manager and develop a simple system that everyone involved can easily understand. Before defining any caregiver job description, though, the first step is to assess your senior’s specific needs.
- Medical needs. Does your loved one require a licensed medical professional, such as a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse, to help with such responsibilities as prescription medications, pain management, insulin therapy, and monitoring vitals? If so, the caregiver agency you’ve chosen should prepare a medical care plan with input from you and your loved one, based on her doctor’s orders. The plan should outline specific duties of a home medical caregiver and include the times of day that medical assistance must be provided.
- Nonmedical needs. Does your senior only need nonmedical home care that includes bathing, dressing, toileting, preparing meals, light housework, and running errands? Who is responsible for that care? If you hired caregivers through an agency, that agency should develop a care plan. If you’ve hired an independent caregiver, develop a care plan that covers your loved one’s needs each day and night, including weekends, to assess how many hours of home care a day will be required, and at what times. Create this type of list for yourself and for other family caregivers as well.
- Joint needs. In some cases, seniors require both levels of care. Having specific care plans for each makes the job of assigning caregiver duties that much easier.
Chart Caregiver Duties in Writing
Once the levels of care and specific caregiver description are outlined, all you have to do is choose the best way to outline caregiver duties in writing. This is where technology, such as Excel spreadsheets and a variety of Web and mobile apps, comes in handy. Lifehacker recommends several “to-do list” apps based on feedback from readers, including Google Keep, Any.DO, and Wunderlist.
Traditional methods, such as a handwritten or typed chart listing duties of each caregiver and posted on the refrigerator, will also work. Or, caregiver duties can be outlined on a large white erase board, which is also a handy place to leave notes for various caregivers.
No matter what form the chart of caregiver duties takes, the duties themselves will only be as effective as the people who perform them. For that reason, you and your senior should sit down once a month and evaluate caregiver performance. If something isn’t working, the issue can be quickly addressed and duties reassigned or clarified to ensure that the right care is given.