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Care Team Communication: 3 Steps for Staying Informed - US Version

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March 21, 2014

From physicians and specialists, to therapists and caregivers, a senior patient can have a long list of members on their care team roster. Communicating well with all parties is necessary for providing seamless care, but it is also challenging, especially when you do not work directly with other members of the team. Finding ways to increase communication among a senior’s care team will not only make your job easier, it can result in better overall care for the patient and reduced stress for the family.

Here are three steps you and your senior patients can take to keep the lines of communication open:

1. Compile a Resource Kit
A collection of written, relevant information is an invaluable tool for bridging the communication gap between all members of a senior’s care team. Consider assisting your senior patients in completing their own resource kit, and encourage them to keep it updated and bring it to their appointments. Not only will it be helpful to the senior, it can be a real asset to caregivers.

For a ready-to-use example, try this Senior Emergency Kit available for free from Home Instead, Inc., franchisor for the Home Instead Senior Care® network. It provides printable forms that your patients and their families can use to store the contact information of medical professionals, record medical conditions and concerns, track medications and keep a log of doctor visits.

2. Organize and Track Medications
Keeping up with types and times of medications is a challenge for seniors and their families that can become a stumbling block to complete medical care. Proper understanding and organization of prescriptions helps avoid the possibility of incorrect dosages or conflicting medications.

In addition to medication tracking worksheets available in the Senior Emergency Kit mentioned above, this prerecorded webinar on “How To Help Your Senior Manage Medications” is a great resource for tips to help seniors and caregivers overcome this common challenge.

3. Avoid Assumptions
The most important tool for keeping senior patients and their caregiving team on the same page is also the simplest one: Over communication. Do not assume the senior, physician, caregiver or family member knows everything he or she needs to know. Ask questions and encourage them to do the same. Maintaining a full picture of the caregiving puzzle will help the team to collectively provide the best possible care to the senior.

For more tips and tools for tracking seniors’ care, visit the “Answering the Call” Caregiver Stress resource page.

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