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Building confidence as a hospice caregiver–Part 2

Building your confidence as a hospice caregiver

By Terre Mirsch

Earlier this week, we explored what confidence in caregiving is. After all, this whole blog is dedicated to helping family caregivers access the tools they need to care for someone in hospice. If you are unsure, your stress and the hospice patient’s stress will manifest itself in physical and emotional ways.

Hospice caregiving is likely new for you. These tips may help you to feel more confident in providing the physical care your loved one needs.

  • Understand how this new idea or task contributes to the overall goals shared by you and your loved one.
  • Recall how this task is similar to other things you have done in the past. For example, when measuring medications, you may recall how proficient you are following a recipe and carefully measuring all of the necessary ingredients.
  • Appreciate all that you have learned and accomplished in caring for your loved one throughout their illness. Past successes are a strong indication that you can, indeed, master any new expectations.
  • Watch and involve yourself as others care for your loved one. For example, assisting the hospice aide in turning and repositioning your loved one during a visit will add to your confidence if you need to perform this task later in the day. Don’t be afraid to ask questions about the care that the team is providing. Don’t hesitate to say, “Let me try. I’d feel better if you watch me the first time I attempt this.”
  • When receiving information, ask questions and take notes. Writing down the information will help to increase your understanding and recall of the information.
  • Repeat back, in your own words, your understanding of the information provided and what you are supposed to do. This allows the healthcare team to evaluate how well they did in teaching you and provides opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings.
  • Simulate experiences that may occur in the future. For example, if you may need to administer a liquid medication at a later time, practice measuring with water (slightly tinted with food coloring) first. If you anticipate the need to assist your loved one with eating, you may feel more confident if you first practice this technique with a healthier family member first.
  • Allow support from the interdisciplinary hospice team. Social work and chaplain support may help to decrease the stress and anxieties that prevent us from feeling self-assured.
  • Learn how other friends or family members handled similar situations and what helped them to be successful.

Caregiving often leads to new experiences, and we may be called upon to do things that we have never done before. The proper support, guidance, and involvement can reduce the uncertainties that plague us and allow for new insights and high levels of confidence.

“I hear and I forget.

I see and I remember.

I do and I understand.”


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