If you are unsure about what kind of help you can access in the community when caring for someone, you are among the many British Columbians who find navigating the healthcare system overwhelming and confusing.
Many caregivers find the co-ordination role (like that of a case manager) the most stressful part of caregiving, even though it takes less time than providing personal care or helping with other caregiving tasks.
Let’s say you think the person you are caring for is showing signs of memory loss, but you aren’t sure if it is serious. Or you aren’t sure what to do to receive a diagnosis and understand possible treatments.
Although the answers to these questions are very important, they only help with one part of the issue. If it is memory loss, the person you are caring for may be affected in other parts of their life. Caring for someone with memory loss causes additional stress and this also needs to be a top concern; where does the caregiver get support and respite?
Before you dive straight into researching, start by answering the following questions:
* What does the person you are caring for think they need to stay independent in daily life?
* What are their current health problems, in addition to the perceived memory loss?
* Would they give permission to a trusted friend or family member to accompany them to a doctor’s appointment to be an extra set of ears?
* What kind of support do they already receive and who is doing it?
* For the family caregiver, what support would help them? Do they want more time to get out of the house? Do they want a group support? Counselling?
* What financial resources are available for support and care?
Once you have a better sense of what the person you are caring for needs, your next step is to understand how to get what they – and you – need through the community.
Services are provided both publicly and privately. In this case, sharing your concern with the family physician is the first step in getting an assessment for memory loss. A family physician can make a referral to a specialty team within the local health authority. The person you are caring for would be visited by a team that would provide an assessment and recommend treatment and care plans.
If concerns are about physical challenges and being able to do personal care or having difficulty remembering to take medications, a direct
referral could be made to Community Health Services to determine eligibility (based on a standard assessment) to receive community-based health service.
Caregiver support is also available through respite options, Adult Day programs and caregiver support groups. Services provided through the public stream may be subsidized depending on income. Other services are available privately or through non-profit organizations.
It doesn’t end there. In fact, this is just the beginning. Call us at 1-877-520-3267 to speak to a knowledgeable and caring professional or join our September webinar on Accessing Community Resources to learn more.