Caregiving: When Teamwork gets Rough 

Caregiving: When Teamwork gets Rough

Summary: Caregiving requires a lot of communication, conversation, and teamwork. The best of teams can go through trials of varying focus and broken communication, which can lead to detrimental problems in providing care for the patient. Here you can learn suggestions and tips on how to keep your caregiving team in tip-top shape, thusly increasing your patient’s quality of care.

Your caregiving team is most likely made up of your close family and friends, all of whom have different relationships with the patient than your own. Some of the people assisting with your patient might have years of friendship or relationship turmoil that you are not aware of. Siblings in a caregiving situation may have very different relationships with their parents. A spouse may have years of resentment against their spouse, who is now being taken care of by their children because they cannot find common ground.

Caregiving always has the potential and power to bring up those old hurts and resentments that lie deep within a family. Most all of these hurts are never spoken of, or rarely addressed, but in the face of the stress from caregiving, can cause people to fall into negative family patterns, lacking communication and connectedness.

While you will indeed face many different personality style and people along the caregiving journey, keeping these points in mind can help:

  • Get help. In some cases, bringing in an outside help might be beneficial to your caregiving plan. An outside help might be a social worker, geriatric care manager, therapist, counselor, or even a home health aide.
  • Adjust roles and responsibilities. If you notice that your caregiving team is not functioning well, or someone is slacking while doing their role, it may be best to revisit the plan, and consider shifting team members around from job to job. Think about scheduling a meeting with the team to discuss this move and if anyone wants to try a new task.
  • Evaluate communication blocks. When you begin to feel the trouble creeping in, start by evaluating your communication plan and ensuring that all members of the team feel heard and updated.
  • Accept everyone’s differences. Caregiving is a very stressful and emotionally charged job. Wasting your own energy on being angry and trying to change people’s minds will only cause more trouble. In the long run, the best choice for you as the main caregiver is to stay focused on the task of patient care and simply accept the differences or varying opinions of others. You can only control yourself.

While communication issues may make caregiving even more challenging, try to remember that the focus needs to be on the patient and taking care of their needs during their struggle back to health. This is not the time to try and work through family hurts, drama, or otherwise.

The Positive Reinforcements in Caregiving

This job is one of the most physically and emotionally draining, and many caregivers make incredible sacrifices. That is why taking the time to recognize and appreciate your entire team is important to do on a regular basis. Even if there are members of your team pulling different weight on duties, take the time to recognize each and every help. Sometimes, appreciation from the people you’re caring for means the most, too.

All of your team members, including yourself, have a responsibility to reinforce one another. To lift and carry one another during this trial-filled time with the patient. Here are some suggestions on how to recognize your team members:

  • Treat them to their favorite treat or wanted small gift. This might be as simple as flowers, or as complicated as making their favorite dinner.
  • A decorated picture frame with a photo of them and the patient together.
  • A hand-written thank you note, phone call, text message or email from you or your patient about how much they mean to you.
  • A simple, in-person thank you for you or the patient.

By following these guidelines on communication, knowing your team’s communication and personality style, and understanding your patient’s needs, wants and desires- you are on your way to being an excellent and attentive caregiver!

If you find yourself, or your caregiving team struggling with communication, reach out to a local support group, therapist, or reach out to our Reclaiming Intimacy Through H.O.P.E. team. We are here to help, offer tips and suggestions, as well as support to help you through the hard times.

Resources Used:


Reclaiming Intimacy

Goyer, Amy. Juggling Life, Work and Caregiving. 2015.

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