As the primary family caregiver, you have a lot of weight on your shoulders. But that doesn’t mean you should work alone. A care team is a group of selected people you’ve chosen to rely on to help you provide care for your loved one. They are there to support you, supplement you when you need a break, and help in the ways you need them to. In this article, we’ll talk about assembling a care team: who should be included, the importance of a care team, and tips for building yours.
Why is a Care Team Important?
It’s no secret, caregiving is stressful. Getting some of that workload supplemented by others you know and trust can help minimize feelings of caregiver burnout, stress, and overwhelm. Especially in the early days of becoming a caregiver, trusted help can allow you to better adjust and balance your time between the new responsibilities of care and the other responsibilities of life.
It’s also always better to plan ahead for situations where you’ll need help. Life happens. There may be a time that you reasonably expect to be able to show up for care, but simply can’t for whatever reason. Maybe your car breaks down, your child is sick, there’s an emergency at work, etc. If you wait until you’re desperate for help or an emergency situation, the help may not come together as expected or needed. Creating a care plan and sharing it with your care team will ensure everyone is confident and on the same page about what’s needed.
Who Should be Included in Your Care Team?
Now that you understand the importance of the care team, the next question is: who should be included? Your entire community can be a part of your care team, so think outside of the box when considering who to include.
Here are some places to look for members to add to your care team:
- Family members that live nearby.
- Family members that live far away.
- Close friends.
- Your medical care team.
- Medical specialists.
- Your mental care team.
- Local nonprofits.
- Community outreach programs.
- A local support group.
To visualize your initial care team, imagine a target. You, your closest family, and closest friends are at the center. The next ring includes professionals, like the medical team or paid caregivers that supplement your care. And the outer circle includes community resources such as neighbors who can step in in an emergency, nonprofits like your local church that can step in to help, or volunteers.
Some family members or friends will be able to help best by offering financial support, a shoulder to cry on, or a rock to vent to. Others will be able to offer more hands-on and reliable support. Only you will be able to assign these rules based on your trust and relationships with these individuals. The important part of this exercise is identifying that group of people you can call.
Tips for Assembling Your Care Team
Unfortunately, not everyone you identify will be willing or able to help in the ways you imagine. Some of your friends or family may avoid you or the topic. Others may not have siblings or other family members nearby that can help out. But you can’t assemble a care team without first taking stock and identifying those around you that you just might be able to count on. Here are some tips for making the most of your care team:
- Keep an open mind. Don’t allow your personal judgments of those around you prevent you from putting them on the list. You never know who will step up to the plate, so don’t eliminate potential help too soon.
- Start identifying strengths. Maybe your best friend offers great advice and can offer a shoulder to lean on. Or your cousin is great at finding deals and can help with the financial side. Maybe your neighbor can bring your loved one along on errands. Or your sister is great on the phone and may be able to help negotiations with insurance. Everyone has something to offer, so I think outside of the box.
- Pay attention to energy. Some people you may find take more energy from you than they contribute. In these instances, you have to weigh the pros and cons of their involvement and evaluate their value to the overall goals of care.
- Talk to everyone on the list. Explain your needs, your loved ones needs, and be open about how they can help you. Explain your thought process: “I could really use your help with staying organized, I know you’re incredible with time management.”
As you start organizing your list, also consider your strengths and weaknesses. See if you can identify gaps in your skills and individuals who can fill them. One of the best ways to evaluate your needs is to start with a care plan and work your way backwards. Click here for our guide to creating a care plan that works.
- Don’t be afraid to add professionals. There are many ways to get professional care subsidized or paid for through grants. So talk to your local CRC, or discuss your needs with your local church or nonprofit for ideas. Professionals may be professional caregivers, medical care specialists, or less obvious professionals like financial planners, lawyers, or therapists.
- Consider other resources. Meals on wheels or another delivery service can be a great resource to supplement grocery needs. Adult daycare offers you supervised time off of caregiving to manage other tasks. A professional housekeeping service may free up crucial time for other things.
Recommended Reading: Can You Get Paid to Care for Your Loved One?
If you are a caregiver for your loved one, we recommend you check out our article about getting paid to be a caregiver. Becoming a caregiver is difficult and expensive–out-of-pocket annual costs average in the thousands for a family caregiver. The state of California offers several paths to receiving at least partial compensation or subsidized assistance, so click here to learn more about how to get paid to be a caregiver.Share this post: