That is, by creating a plan of what would take place in worst-case scenarios a “caregiver safety net” can be formed and risks can be managed. Steels says that by having discussions about personal preferences, care options and financial resources, gaps in the caregiver safety net can be identified and then addressed. Rosalyn Gambell, manager of cancer care, palliative and geriatric emergency management (GEM) nurses and patient flow navigators at Southlake Regional Health Centre, echoes this suggestion as she says she has witnessed the negative consequences of a caregiver requiring hospitalization when a contingency plan has not been arranged. Often time, such situations lead to patients having to also be hospitalized. There are four steps suggested for caregivers to begin creating a caregiving contingency plan:
- Initiate the conversation with loved ones early on about their desires in the event the caregiver is no longer able to perform caregiving duties. Questions such as where they would like to live once they are no longer able to live at home (even with the caregivers assistance), are important to discuss.
- Research the options for care services. The Community Care Access Centre is a valuable resource as they can provide information about programs such as adult day programs, respite, nursing care and personal care. Also, in the York Region area, Doorways to Care has connections with over 20 community agencies.
- Understand financial resources. Take into account the additional costs increased care will require. For example, costs such as private care or help with housework and grocery shopping. Research eligibility for Compassionate Care Benefits.
- Seek advice and support. Organizations such as the Alzheimer Society and the Canadian Cancer Society can be valuable resources for creating a contingency plan. Other resources such as the Canadian Caregiver Coalition and WeCare Home Health Services Family Caregiver Guide can also be helpful.
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