Columbia, Mo. – More than 41 million Americans have served as a family caregiver to someone aged 50 or older in the past year, according to the American Association of Retired Persons. Family caregivers who assist aging loved ones at home after a hospitalization are often overburdened, putting them at risk for greater stress and poorer quality of life.
Now, a researcher from the University of Missouri has found that family caregivers want actionable information, tailored training and ongoing support from home health care providers to be effective in managing an older adult’s care.
Jo-Ana Chase, an assistant professor in the MU Sinclair School of Nursing, interviewed family caregivers of older adults who received home health care after a hospitalization to better understand caregivers’ experiences regarding training and support. She found that most family caregivers receive little formal training, and these caregivers need home health care providers to proactively engage them in planning and decision-making for more effective and coordinated patient care.
“Caregivers want to know how best to care for their loved ones, but they often feel like they are learning on their own,” Chase said. “By strengthening the relationship between caregivers and home health care providers, caregivers will be connected with the resources they need to improve patient health outcomes.”
Examples of effective communication include home health care providers leaving caregivers with written instructions and illustrations after visits so that caregivers know how to properly use medical equipment, monitor patient recovery and help patients perform rehabilitation exercises.
“Home health care providers can harness their expertise to improve clinical outcomes for patients and their caregivers,” Chase said. “In addition to the selfless efforts of doctors, nurses and therapists, family caregivers should be recognized for their tireless efforts to positively impact patient care.”
“Caregivers’ Experiences Regarding Training and Support in the Post-Acute Home Health-Care Setting” was recently published in the Journal of Patient Experience. The research was supported by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (R24HS022140) and the MU Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Center. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies.