Starting Out

While some caregivers come to the role with prior experience, many new caregivers only know what they learned in health class in school, from watching TV programs, or through life experiences. As a result, realizing all it takes to manage someone else’s care suddenly becomes overwhelming. When they first begin to take on the care of someone else, they like they must learn everything at once. However, most don’t know where to get started or how to manage information overload.

Helping caregivers figure out what they need and where to get it is the focus of “Starting Out.” Some fundamental topics are helpful for all caregivers to know. “First Steps” presents the basics and then provides additional details you’ll need with “Understanding Healthcare,” “Legal Considerations,” and “Money Management.”

First Steps

As a new caregiver, you may feel overwhelmed by the information you need to take in at once. Indeed, you have a lot to learn. Initially, you are bombarded with information in random order and have no idea how to sort it or what information is reliable.

First Steps provides an organized approach to getting started as a caregiver. First, you’ll learn a technique to assess your situation to help create a plan to approach your new caregiver responsibilities. Once you draft a plan, you sort through priorities and resources needed until your plan becomes manageable. Then, you begin your implementation and evaluation phases. Before you know it, you have established a routine and a new “normal.”

Treatment or surgical suites are strictly regulated within healthcare facilities to reduce the risk of infections. Therefore, families may be denied access to those areas.

Understanding Healthcare

When caregivers enter the healthcare world, it’s like dropping into the Alice in Wunderland rabbit hole sometimes. Suddenly, they need to understand how hospitals and doctor’s offices function, medical terminology, what test results mean, and who’s on the healthcare team when trying to find answers to healthcare questions or make medical decisions.

Once you leave the healthcare environment, you face a new challenge if you decide to hire someone to help you care for your family member at home. Do you contract with a staffing agency or hire someone to work directly for you? If you hire someone, you become an employer and are subject to all the employment laws of a small business in your state.  

I provide an overview of the laws and regulations caregivers encounter most, with links to additional resource information appropriate to the topic to help you with complex employment questions. 

Legal Considerations

Healthcare is heavily regulated because negative outcomes can result in death or lifetime disabilities. Therefore, laws, rules, and regulations exist on just about every healthcare topic. In addition, personal privacy, fair and equal access to treatments, rights to decide, and so many other topics keep too numerous to list make it difficult for new caregivers to navigate the healthcare system without stumbling over a roadblock. I’ve worked in healthcare for 30 years and am familiar with many of these laws.  My goal is to explain them to you in terms that are easy to understand to help you negotiate healthcare systems with greater efficiency. 

Money Management

Caregiving is expensive. Even if you have insurance, you pay for most of the medical supplies and other essentials out of your personal savings. All caregivers need supplies but knowing where to find them and which are the best buy for the least amount of money is a challenge. Other caregivers can help give you suggestions with that.  Help with all the medical and supply bills may come from applying for Medicare or Medicaid if you qualify. However, rules are very restrictive.