Health Care Team Members include the primary caregiver and patient.
I recently read this article by JESSIE GRUMAN, PHD that introduces how the medical delivery system will soon be delivered with a “team” approach. I was excited to learn there will be “primary care teams” that will coordinate care, give more time to helping that patient and the family learn about how to take better care of themselves. The article went on to say, the goal of these primary care teams would even allow greater access and availability to the team to answer questions and address minor issues. Dr. Gruman PHD, made some interesting observations that I thought were noteworthy to share with you.
Here is a link to the entire article: http://www.kevinmd.com/blog/2013/06/health-care-teams-patients.html
As a nurse and a caregiver, I am promoting a team approach to care. This site www.caregiverrelief.com is based on a person centered approach to care. This approach forces the medical professionals to see a person as an individual, and not a diagnosis. It is so important that a family be able to sit with the care team and discuss long and short term goals.Here is a person centered profile to develop for your family member.
As a nurse with over 40 years experience, I have observed that there is a big disconnect between the medical professionals and the patients, especially in the area of dementia. Families living with a person with dementia become the experts:they know their family members capabilities, personality and past history. With support of the medical professionals,the family of a person with dementia can help them remain independent and in control of their life for as long as possible.
I, personally would like to see a time when a person is given a diagnosis of dementia, and the medical team sets up regularly scheduled meetings to discuss long and short term goals, end of life issues, the type of dementia and how it may affect behaviors and personality.This ongoing interaction would not only be beneficial to the family, but to the medical professionals as well. So many medical professionals have the knowledge and understanding for a clinical perspective. Many are unable to apply their knowledge to a practical setting such as the patients home. I have seen it over and over again, when a family is is dealing with someone with no short term memory and discusses this with a medical professional. Many of these patients can no longer be left alone for safety reasons. The family caregiver needs someone there to help them to stay with the patient with dementia, even if they just need to take a shower or do a load of laundry in another room. There is a consistent disconnect from the medical professionals to the needs of the family to help them keep their family member at home as long as possible.
I also see this disconnect when a dementia patient is admitted to an alternative setting such as Assisted Living. A new setting is difficult for anyone, it can be overwhelming for a person with dementia. The medical professionals may recommend Assisted LIving or a Nursing home, but, rarely do they provide the most important information to make that transition easier for everyone. Taking a team approach and developing a person centered profile can help make any transition easier.
In my book, Diagnosis of Dementia, What Do I Do Now? I take a step by step approach through the process of important issues that should be addressed when a person is in the early stages of dementia. In Dr. Gruman’s article, there are many questions that need to be answered in regards to how this type of system would work. My thoughts are that the family should insist on regularly scheduled meetings to discuss the issues at hand. Developing a person centered profile, being prepared with a list of questions for the meetings and allowing the person with dementia to have as much involvement for as long as possible will allow the team to see how the dementia patient may respond to things based on their personality. This will allow the “team” to make educated decisions based on the goals of the patient and family, the patients natural disposition, and also take into consideration managing other medical conditions a person may have.
I feel that families of a person with dementia should embrace this “team” approach to care. Things are slow to change in the medical delivery system. If you are a family member or a person with dementia that wants to be involved with your care until your dying breathe, it can be done. It takes a team approach that includes the family caregiver that will advocate for the the person with dementia. We have all the tools here to help you accomplish that goal. We are here to support you as you take this journey to have your family member seen as a person, and not just a diagnosis.