I earn a living by working in a hospital in the department of Human Resources. Hospitals are heavily regulated and one of the most stringent agencies who monitor us is The Joint Commission. One of the standards they have for human resources is that it’s our responsibility to determine if the people we hire are competent enough to safely do their jobs. I won’t bore you with the details on how that’s done but in working on a project related to competency determination today, I thought about what competencies are required to be a family caregiver. It’s not an easy job but for some reason insurance carriers and the government seems to believe that any family member should be able to be a caregiver.
Just before my father-in-law died last month, I was attempting to assist my mother-in-law in finding someone who could take care of him if he was discharged to hospice care. We discovered that once a person is deemed not to be able to improve but instead just needs comfort care or maintenance care that Medicare and insurance companies no longer pay for help regardless of the health and well-being of the family member responsible for his care. My mother-in-law is near 80 and has myasthenia gravis, a neurological condition that makes all her muscles very weak. She cannot lift or move anything more than a few pounds in weight. There was no way that she could provide care for her spouse; however, that factor was not considered by insurance and she was unable to get any type of financial assistance to bring someone in to care for him or to place him in a skilled care facility. Why? Because insurance said he did not need skilled care; just palliative care.
I’ve found the same is true for someone who is totally disabled and cannot improve their health, like Lynn. His MS has progressed to secondary progressive and he can do nothing physical for himself; not even scratch an itch. He is an author and writes manuscripts with the use of a verbal command program that writes what he dictates. It’s slow going but it keeps him productive and fortunately, so far his memory has not been affected by the disease. With Lynn needing total care and my needing to work full time to pay the bills, I looked for help that we could afford. I now pay an individual to work six hours a day 2-3 days a week to assist him with typing, feed him, and make sure he has liquids to drink. I provide all the rest of his care. Am I competent to truly care for him? What type of competencies do I need to keep him safe and healthy? If someone was to apply for my job, what would my job description as a care giver look like?
Caregiver Job Description
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