"Being a Home Caregiver in the Hospital Setting"

"When life is disrupted by a sudden or critical illness, we may feel circumstances are out of control. This can bring anxiety and difficulty making decisions at a time when clear thinking is needed.

When you are a caregiver, you may have accompanied your patient on multiple trips to the ER or hospital admissions. While having experience with hospital routines may reduce anxiety, being hospitalized remains very stressful for patient and caregiver.

It is hard to watch loved ones endure discomfort and uncertainty. Hospital workers may fail to recognize or respect your caregiver status, and may ask you to leave the room during procedures or after visiting hours are over, when your patient needs you the most.

Begin building a collaborative relationship with hospital staff as soon as possible. Have your patient communicate your caregiver status to the attending doctor and the charge nurse. This is especially important if you are not formally related. Patient requests to be accompanied by their own, familiar caregiver are frequently granted by nursing staff, and are generally welcomed.

That said, you will need to tune in to the routines of the unit and provide for your patient’s comfort and safety without becoming demanding or disruptive of the flow of work around you. In the hospital, find out who is in charge of your unit and who is assigned to your patient. Most facilities have a whiteboard facing the patients bed where caregivers write their names and contact information for each shift. Direct any requests or inquiries to the assigned person if possible. Make sure your information is in your patients chart and at the bedside, so doctors and other medical workers can readily contact you in case you are not there when they visit. This is especially important if you care for someone with memory or communication issues.

Advocate for your patient and help the staff get to know his or her needs. Assist when you can, but allow medical staff to do their jobs. You may find it challenging being a home caregiver in a hospital environment. Building collaborative relationships with hospital caregivers will help them provide better care."

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