Those who are not officially employed as caregivers but who are family members providing caregiving services are now taking on added responsibilities including some that were previously performed in hospital settings only.
The rise of family caregivers lends itself to this trend, noted by AARP in a new report.
The level of care that non-professional caregivers are providing has grown increasingly complex to include services that are commonly found not just in assisted living communities but also in nursing homes. Almost half of family caregivers (46%) performed medical/nursing tasks for care recipients with multiple chronic physical and cognitive conditions, the AARP Public Policy Institute and United Hospital Fund survey revealed.
“Those who provided these tasks and reported they had training were more likely to say they were able to help their family member avoid nursing home placement,” says the AARP report.
Tasks can include medication management, helping with assistive mobility devices, preparing food for special diets, providing wound care, using monitors, managing incontinence, and operating specialized medical equipment, along with assistance with activities of daily living.
However, more than half of those who performed five or more medical/nursing tasks reported feeling down, depressed, or hopeless in the last two weeks, says AARP, suggesting that taking on these responsibilities may be beyond what many nonprofessional senior caregivers are capable of on a sustainable basis.
Healthcare provider organizations, including rehab centers and nursing homes, need to support healthcare professionals in their efforts by providing adequate resources and strong leadership, AARP recommends.
“Every provider should have clear expectations, protocols, and support for clinicians who interact with family caregivers, especially caregivers who are taking on complex medical/nursing tasks. Payment policies should be structured to make this happen,” says the report.
Written by Alyssa Gerace