There is a startling difference in caregivers of today and those of twenty years ago. Society has dictated this change and it seems to be for the better. Caregivers are frequently family members with a very strong tie to the person receiving care. However, it would be for the best if paid caregivers in residential care realized the complete emotional tie provided by the family caregiver. This bond of caregivers would provide the very best in care and living for the person receiving care.
As paid caregivers are not always (actually rarely) vested in the complete story of the lives of family caregiver and person receiving care. There is only a certain amount of story development we can do, however family secrets are always meant to remain just that, secrets. This can make for not only difficult understanding of some situations but also can create very dubious feelings all around.
There is not one patient coming through the doors of residential care that is a clean slate. So how can we as caregivers learn to best meet the needs of our persons without stepping in the frozen zone? If residential living establishments would take the time and a slight cost to fill out basic family story paperwork, much of the uncomfortable and rocky roads could be paved and more comfortable.
We know that not everyone is going to just come out and tell us all the family stories. There is also the person telling the story from their perspective which will need to be considered. Working with the person sitting right in front of us is a wonderful theory however not usually accurate. For the now largest residential care setting situations (assisted living) there is usually not a social worker on staff. The nurses are spread very thin and the CNA's and Recreational Directors do not have the time or expertise to carry out this kind of information reconnaissance.
If someone in each family would take on the challenge of putting together a story board for the family member this would if used properly, go the distance with bringing added information to help know this person a little better. And for family members this story board will predicate a knowledgeable environment for all in the family.
A story board does not have to be in great detail, rather of great substance. Meaning not just dates for born, school, military yes or no, married or not, children or not (we are talking about one person not the whole family). So look at life moments of great emphasis for the person. Note when great changes happened in this person's life and the positive and negative effects. Every person has some things which are beloved memories and some memories which are challenging to talk about or even think about. So include both (annotating the ‘enjoys talking about’ or ‘finds this very difficult to discuss’) - this gives the new staff not only a good reference but also a head's up for possible troubling areas.
Learn more about Story Boards at www.seemystory.com/storyboards-for-care-homes.