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The Blessings of Collaborative Care

The Blessings of Collaborative Care

Greetings one and all…

It is a glorious afternoon in the Mile High City—sunshine, blue skies, and a refreshing breeze. I am so thankful to be home today. The past fews weeks have been a whirlwind of conferences, workshops, and presentations. So today, it’s time to take a deep breath and to reflect on the many people I met along the way. As always, I learned so much from the personal and professional caregivers who graciously shared a bit of their stories. I never cease to be amazed by the courage, compassion, and commitment of caregivers. However, I also witnessed the price paid by primary caregivers who attempt to be all things to all people all of the time—physical, emotional, and spiritual exhaustion. Consequently, I want to highlight the blessings of collaborative care.

“Collaborative care is a philosophy of caregiving that encourages the participation of all those affected by (involved with) a caregiving situation.” (Barton, 2013) Using the collaborative approach, family members, friends, neighbors, colleagues, and professional caregivers form a community of care that shares in the responsibilities of care. Consequently, a more balanced approach to caregiving is possible. Although the idea of collaborative care sounds appealing to most primary caregivers, there is a major hurdle to overcome—resistance to assistance. Most people find it very difficult to ask for and to receive help. Consequently, unless we overcome our resistance, collaborative care is a pipe dream.

Over the past decade, I have learned the best way to promote the idea of collaborative care is by highlighting the blessings derived from working and caring together. A community of care:

  • Transforms the isolation experienced by caregivers and care receivers
  • Creates a network of care—a safety net if something happens to the primary caregiver
  • Shares in the responsibilities of care
  • Is predicated on interdependent, mutually-beneficial relationships
  • Promotes the sharing of ideas, skills, resources, and knowledge
  • Results in a balanced approach to caregiving.

Collaborative care requires some basic organizational skills. Thankfully, there are wonderful online resources that facilitate the creation of a collaborative care team. I encourage you to “test drive” the resources noted below—all of which are FREE. Obviously, the list is far from comprehensive. But having utilized all of the online tools mentioned, I know them to be efficient, effective, and beneficial. Upon review, I would love to hear your impressions regarding:

  • CareMaps (www.atlasofcaregiving.com): CareMaps describes a process for mapping out your caregiving needs as well as potential caregiving community.
  • Lotsa Helping Hands (www.lotsahelpinghands.com): Lotsa Helping Hands is an organizational as well as communication tool for collaborative teams.
  • Caring Bridge (www.CaringBridge.org): Caring Bridge is an organizational as well as communication tool for collaborative teams.
  • Facebook (www.Facebook.com): Facebook offers the option to create a Group Page which can be used by collaborative care teams to organize caregiving tasks and to communicate.

I hope you will seriously consider the idea of collaborative care. Over the past 14 years, I have witnessed how this model of caregiving transforms the lives of both caregivers and care receivers. Although collaborative care proves to be magical in many situations, it’s not magic. It doesn’t just happen. Creating a collaborative team of caregivers requires some initial effort and ongoing maintenance. However, the time and effort are well invested as evidenced by the ultimate blessing of collaborative care. Primary caregivers need not compromise their own health and well-being as a result of caring for a family member or friend. And that is a blessing indeed!

I look forward to the ongoing conversation. If you have specific questions or concerns related to your caregiving experience, I would love to hear from you. Until the next posting, I wish you and yours countless blessings…jane  

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