Best Practices: Tips & Techniques
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Best practices: tips and techniques are CarePlanIt’s suggestions on helping seniors and their families manage age-related issues. The focus of Carmen and my careers have centered around motivating people to do things. Carmen likes to teach people how to do things, and I like to teach people how to accept new things.
In the best practices for this Section, we share a few simple tips and techniques to help you reach your objectives and communicate with family.
Many Age-related issues that involve the family are related to a crisis. They include things like: diagnosis of a chronic illness, hospitalizations, depletion of money, car accidents, wandering events (Ager wanders off) and inability to stay in current residence. Most every day people aren’t trained to resolve these events. Additionally, when it’s a family member, the emotional impact of these events is tremendous; often debilitating. It’s common for people’s fight or flight instincts to kick in or for people to become paralyzed.
Six-Step Family Communication Best Practice
So Carmen and I developed a Six-Step plan for family communication. Use it as a reminder when you’re in a crisis and want to reach better outcomes.
Were going to discuss this process from two perspectives. The first in the abstract, the second using an example.
Step 1 – Think – What’s The Objective?
If you can’t think you can’t make good decisions. Slow down, try and gather as many facts as you can. With those facts, ask yourself what you can reasonably do, or want done. Sometimes, we’re in the best position to make a plan. Other times, we simply need to delegate. Sometimes, we need to narrow the scope of what we’re trying to do because we’re unable to deal with a larger or more complicated problem at the moment. Breaking up a problem into parts and addressing them over time is sometimes a good option.
Step 2 – Bounce Your Thought Off Another
No matter how thoughtful and competent you are, family crises often create very complicated situations. Someone familiar with your family and situation can often provide great feedback. Call a helpful family member or confidant to assist you in your assessment. They can help you address questions like: are you focusing on the right issues? Have you thought through what you want to accomplish? Have you thought of a proper timeframe? Are you the right one to create and suggest the plan? Or would the goal be better obtained if you had someone else suggest and manage the project?
Step 3 – Make a Plan
Once you identify your objective, scope, and timeline you can build a plan. The plan can be as simple as getting Mom to an outdoor concert, or as complicated as identifying, selecting and moving into a new senior housing facility. The key I to identify the tasks that need to be done to properly attain the objective.
Step 4 – Select The Right Person or Team
Picking the right person or team to execute the plan is key if the plan is to be properly executed. If the plan involves selecting a new place to live and the person doing the selection doesn’t know anything about finance, they ay inadvertently select a home you cannot afford. Sometimes one person cannot complete a plan. The plan needs a team. Selecting the right team members and giving them the right tasks becomes critical.
Step 5 – Execute the Plan
Getting the plan done, and getting it done efficiently are important. Especially when a team is involved, their ability to communicate and share information is critical. Sometimes tasks are dependent on one another. I can’t do task 3 until task 2 is complete.
Step 6 – Share Results
Share the results with the team. This shows commitment to the plan. Many collaborative efforts fail because results are not shared. Remember that some participants probably thought things should have been done differently. If they are working, this keeps those people involved. If the plan is failing, the plan can be changed.
Example Using Best Practices
Example: Mom Falls Doing Laundry
You’re Janet, 75 years old and married to Bob, an ailing spouse. You fall in your house going down to the basement to do the laundry and fracture your hip. You’re unconscious for about five minutes. When you wake, you’re able to get your spouse to call 911. An ambulance brings you to the hospital. In the hospital, you call your daughter in a panic. You say, “Betty, I’m in City hospital, I broke something. Can you see to Dad? I’m in pain, I need to hang up.” Janet’s clearly in pain and probably confused from the fall and injury. Her first instinct was for Bob, so she called the first person she thought could help, Betty. Versions of this scenario take place all the time. We’re going to go through this example as if you were trained in our recommended process. Keep in mind, that both Janet and Betty can and should be trained in this process.
Janet’s Family Tree
Step 1 – Think | What’s The Objective
If you can’t think you can’t make good decisions. The best practice is to slow down and calm down. Try and gather as many facts as you can. With those facts, ask yourself what you can reasonably do, or want done, and call a helpful family member or confidant to assist you in your assessment.
If Janet is able to stop and think, she’ll realize a few things. One, Bob, the neighbors or even the paramedics if they recognized Bob’s frailty probably already called your daughter Betty. If so, Betty is already engaged and trying to figure out how to respond to the situation. So Janet should share information with Betty and ask a more open-ended question. Something like: Betty, I’m in the hospital because I fell and got injured; They’re taking care of me. I’m concerned about Dad. Can you help? If she can’t think, because she’s in the hospital and in pain, she needs to rely on someone else. In CarePlanIt we teach you to pick a point person. In this case, that’s Betty.
Betty gets the call. Mom’s in the hospital. CarePlanIt teaches Betty, Don’t Panic. Get more information. Betty calls other family members and lets them know Mom is in the hospital. Betty goes to the hospital with the knowledge that she needs to meet with her Mom’s doctors to determine (1) what needs to be done, (2) what should be done, and (3) what the consequences are from a health perspective (ability to perform, ADLs and IADLs).
At the hospital, Betty tells her mother that she’ll move in with Dad for a few days, so she doesn’t have to worry about him. “Take care of yourself Mom,” is Betty’s first thought.
Janet’s Doctors tell Betty her mother’s options. They decide a hip replacement s the best option for Janet to regain mobility. The surgery can be performed in a few days. Janet will need a few days in the hospital for recovery. She’ll then need rehabilitation for a few weeks. After that, it will take a few months at home before Janet can start doing what she did before the fall.
With her Mom’s doctor’s diagnosis, Betty can think about the proper objective. She believes that Dad will need support because he can’t be left alone. Mom will need the ability to get healthy and strong without worrying about Dad. She also believes that things are likely to change. Her parent’s total independence is at stake. They probably need to look at a new place to live.
Step 2 – Bounce Your Thoughts Off Another
You’re under stress. The best practice after coming up with some ideas is to bounce those ideas off a couple of others. Betty calls her brother Chico and shares her concerns. She lay out a list of issues that include:
Betty and Chico discuss how best to provide care. Maybe they can hire a service. But Betty says she can move in with Dad, and them Mom and Dad for the next few months. If she has support in other areas. They discuss those areas and Chico agrees to help manage, coordinate, and transport (or arrange transportation) for all medical appointments.
Some other issues come up. These include:
They agree to put all the tasks together and call a family meeting. Chico puts together a quick plan to help the other family members understand the tasks that need to be done. In addition, he started to create a plan of tasks that would need to be done to support Mom and Dad.
Step 3 – Make a Plan
Betty and Chico create a plan. CarePlanIt’s best practices call for a plan. Without a plan, you don’t know where you’re going, or how you’ll get there. They call a family meeting to discuss the things that need to get done and see who might be willing to help with the tasks and activities.
Betty knows that telling people what to do is a bad way to get most people to do things. She’s learned from CarePlanIt that the best practice is to lay out what needs to be done based on the situation. Then ask people what they would like to do to help out. Betty also learned from CarePlanIt that if she’s able to take the biggest step or task, it often leads to others stepping forward to help out. Betty volunteers to move in with Mom and Dad.
The plan Betty lays out looks something like the plan below. Betty goes over the things that need to be done. The tasks that Mom and Dad can’t do by themselves.
They all agree to meet in a week to discuss the plan and what people want to help and what they can do for Mom and Dad.
Step 4 – Select The Right Person or Team
The second family meeting goes great and family members step up and offer to perform several needed tasks. A CarePlanIt best practice is getting the right person for the job. The areas they are willing to help with are listed below.
Based on how family members want to help (volunteer), Betty is able to assign tasks.
Step 5 – Execute The Plan
The plan, with assigned family members, looks something like this. A best practice is executing the plan. A great plan is still a plan. Execution is what turns something on paper into reality.
Tasks are put into a Google Calendar and shared with the family. Notes from Doctor visits are shared on Google Drive. Janet keeps track of the progress and progress against the plan and shares these in Google documents on a shared Google Drive.
Step 6 – Share Results
Betty and Chico share the results of the plan with other family members. Best practices involve sharing and assessing results. Carmen acts as a kind of Board of Director secretary taking notes and updating results. They use the free Google tools mentioned above. They discuss the results of the prior week and needs for the upcoming week. If changes need to be made to the plan, they talk about these, and vote to determine the best options going forward.
Other Resources On Best Practices: Tips & Techniques
A good article on best practices and why they’re important here.
Another good article on basic best practice techniques here.
May of CarePlanIt’s best practice recommendations energe from our discovery about Community Engagement and how seniors get things done, See that section here.