What Is a Care Plan?Let’s discuss an essential tool for effectively doing your job: the care plan. The care plan is the tool that helps you to understand how to care for each of your clients who live in the home. The plan also informs the other members of your professional caregiving team about the services that each client will need. It is your direct line of communication with other members of your care team. Think of it as a recipe card or blueprint for how to care for each client. Anyone should be able to pick up a care plan and know just how to care for the client. That is why they are so critical. The facility that hires you will specifically outline the tasks you are responsible for accomplishing while on your shift, as well as the special needs and services for each client. This includes medical, dental, vision, hearing, and mental health services. It explains the client’s ability to take their medications, and how staff should assist. The plan will explain if the client needs help to walk, bathe, or dress, and the type of help he/she needs. The plan will also explain the social activities and other services that are specially designed for each client. The care plan must be accessible by direct care staff persons at all times.
Understanding A Care PlanYou need to understand your client’s care plan. A care plan is created specifically for each client and describes exactly what services should be provided. Included in the care plan may also be 2 important terms that you may not be familiar with:
- One is “DNR status”. DNR stands for “do not resuscitate” or “do not attempt resuscitation”. This refers to the older adult’s end-of-life wishes, and whether or not they would like CPR and a breathing machine if their heart stops, or if they stop breathing. Attempted resuscitation may, in many situations with older, ill adults, cause pain and suffering with little chance of recovery, so many older adults will request to have a DNR in place.
- “Power of attorney,” “health care proxy” or HCP for short, or “health care agent.” This is the person that the older adult has legally designated to be their substitute decision maker, should they not be competent to make their own health care decisions. This may not be their next of kin, or even a relative. It is important that this is the person, and not another family member or friend, that you speak to about your client.
What is caregiver stress?
Make Time to Take Care of YourselfCaregiver stress and compassion fatigue are the result of the physical and emotional exhaustion experienced by those who care for people. It is the chronic stress caused by caregiving. Emotional impact of trauma and painful material can be contagious and transmitted through the process of empathy. If you don’t make self-care a priority, no one else will do it for you.
How do your recognize if you have caregiver stress or compassion fatigue?Mental signs of caregiver stress may include recurring and intrusive thoughts such as paranoia, feelings of guilt or suicidal thoughts, limited attention span, difficulty concentrating, poor work performance, or becoming easily irritated or frustrated. Physical signs may include flare-ups of high blood pressure, diabetes, headaches, back aches, chest pains, stomach problems, trouble sleeping, change in appetite, chronic tiredness, or substance abuse.
How do you manage stress on the job?A willingness to get help is the most important part of managing caregiver stress.
- Recognize high stress as a normal, expected response to your work
- Use your supervisor for support
- Attend training on a regular basis
- Network with other professional caregivers
- Set clear boundaries and maintain limits . This is really important. Know what your job limits are, and keep your work within your work hours. Clients and families shouldn’t be calling you outside of your work hours. If that happens, let your supervisor know.
- Connect with clients. Know that you are doing important work and think about how it must feel like to suffer the disabilities and inconveniences your older adult client does. But, even as you do this, know that it is your job and not your family – when you leave work, it’s important to then focus on yourself and your family to keep yourself well. Maintain that work/personal life balance.
- Find meaning in your work
- Start or join a Support Group
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