As a family caregiver, you may find you need to research available resources for the person(s) you care for. This post will help you get started, determine needs, and stay organized. Be aware researching and arranging appropriate services can be a time-consuming experience. You may need to make a series of phone calls or go through a maze of referrals before you find the organization.
Start with a Needs Assessment
Do you clearly know the needs are of your care recipient? Or are these needs what you think that they need?
Contacting Programs and Care Services
Once you have assessed needs, identify the resources and equipment available in your community. Call 211, local ADRCs, the Area Agency on Aging serving your community, agencies such as the Alzheimer’s Association, and other services you may know of. Ask other caregivers for their suggestions.
General guidelines for researching resources
- Set up a 3-ring binder with tabs or colored paper you can use as dividers. Organize each organization or professional you contact, in alphabetical order, in the divider or folder. Remember, this file may grow.
- Do keep information on those who cannot provide the help so you do not contact them again.
- Be prepared with insurance information and a complete prescription and over-the-counter supplements and medicines list.
- Using the worksheet (below, at this link,) write or type in the information that you find.
- When calling, be prepared with specific information, such as the physician’s name, diagnostic information, insurance coverage and Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security numbers, insurance information, medication list, and other information you may be asked for.
- When dealing with agencies, be assertive and specific about your needs.
- Mornings are usually the best time to call.
- Don’t hang up until you understand the follow-up procedures and next steps.
- Be aware that you might be placed on a waiting list. The demand for existing services has increased while the funding for some service programs has decreased. If you can anticipate your needs and the needs of your loved one, you’ll minimize the length of any waiting period.
- “Free” online referral services, especially for senior housing, may only promote those facilities that pay for a listing or placement fee. The listing or recommendation is not an indication of the quality of care provided.
- Don’t hesitate to ask for help. The purpose of most community agencies is to provide services to individuals who need help. You are entitled to these services since many of them are paid for by your taxes, contributions, or fees for service.
- Keep in mind not everyone is familiar with the needs of caregivers. Therefore, many professionals remain uninformed about stresses on you and your loved one. You might find yourself in situations where you need to educate professionals in the community before you can obtain services successfully.
- Don’t give up!
Note: If your care receiver is in the hospital, ask to talk to a discharge planner, social worker, or care manager. Titles vary by facility. The jobs of people in these roles is to help you find resources. If you do not hear from someone on the first day or so at the hospital, ask a nurse or call for information. Don’t be afraid to ask for assistance.
The worksheet will help you keep a record of the organizations and individuals you contact to help you stay organized
Resource Information Worksheet
Create a worksheet for each service and organization you contact.
Sources: Zanda Hilger, M. Ed., LPC; CaregiversLibrary.org
We hope this information is helpful to you in the important work you do as a family caregiver.
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