You’ve heard of a patient advocate. But what is this person and why are they so important?
These people manage the care of patients, perhaps a family member, friend, neighbor, or appointed representative. And they are vital to the success or failure during a home health episode or navigating a complex health care system in America.
I’m coming from the physical therapy view. Caregivers in the home assist patients with their HEP (home exercise program), walking program, safety awareness, management of medications that could impact fall risk. They spot red flags that help us determine if we need to contact their doctor or seek immediate medical attention. They make sure the HEP is done daily and correctly, after learning how from us. They help transfer the patient, and provide basic activities of daily life.They manage their medications, doctor appointments, medical equipment or calling insurance regarding medical claims. Not any easy job!
Having a caregiver who is on top of things is critical. We love them! I always appreciate when a caregiver stays to watch my visit. I try to stay silent when a patient’s caregiver is watching them transfer or perform their exercises. Usually, the caregiver will provide cues for safety during transfers, or walking safety. Then I can offer suggestions for the caregiver’s cuing that hopefully will help progress an exercise or improve safety awareness. This makes the job much easier. I feel patients improve to a higher degree with an involved caregiver. If you know a caregiver, take time to thank them. If you are a caregiver, thank you!