7 Reasons Every Caregiver Should Use A Care Coordination Site
Over 43 million caregivers across the United States are unpaid for the care they provide to an aging loved one or a loved one living with a chronic illness. This care includes a range of tasks such as hands-on personal care, household tasks, medical care management, and major decision-making.
More often than not, caregivers are providing care independently or with limited support.
Continuously organizing, communicating, and making hard decisions can be stressful for caregivers when they’re expected to manage everything for a loved one, as well as their own self-care.
Adding additional tasks like managing appointments, organizing a care team, or keeping other family members updated just becomes one more task for caregivers to add to their growing list of things to do for their loved one.
To help, care coordination websites and apps were developed to assist family caregivers in implementing a care coordination process within a home care setting. These sites were modeled after care coordination services offered within primary care practices, healthcare systems, and insurance programs (Medicaid & Medicare) to support patients and their loved ones.
What is Care Coordination?
According to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (or AHRQ), care coordination is the organization of a patient’s care plan with an increased level of communication throughout a person’s care team - clinicians, family members, and of course, the patient.
Care coordination has been shown to increase the quality of care the patient receives and improves patient outcomes while reducing readmissions and healthcare costs.
Often, care coordination is offered through a health system in order to improve the patient experience for those living with chronic diseases. It is a model of care that includes a diverse healthcare team including clinicians, social workers, and therapists to have a well-rounded view of the patient’s health. However, websites and apps have been created following this care model to allow informal caregivers (family and friends) to create their own care coordination amongst their team.
Some examples of care coordination sites include LotsAHelpingHands, Caretrainr, and Avanlee, but there are several others. Each site has different features, but ultimately they all seek to organize care and be the best companion for caregivers.
These sites are all offered as apps as well, increasing their accessibility to caregivers and their ability to keep necessary information within arm’s reach at all times. The key to an organized care team is a care coordination website.
Why Should Caregivers Use A Care Coordination Site?
Care coordination sites have several features that support caregivers and improve the quality of care and communication among their loved one's care team.
These sites allow all team members to have access to necessary information in order to participate in the care of a loved one.
Let’s review the seven reasons why care coordination sites can be beneficial to caregivers.
1. Keeps Track Of Appointments
Care coordination sites have a shared calendar to keep events organized. If your loved one has a chronic condition, you could find yourself attending frequent medical follow-ups with various healthcare providers.
However, it can be difficult to keep track of these appointments and ensure there is appropriate transportation to each. One of the perks of a care coordination site is being able to keep all these medical appointments in one place.
2. Organizes Care Services
In addition to organizing health services and appointments, care coordination sites can help organize community resources you may be engaging with. These services may include home care adult day programs, programs at the senior center, and transportation services depending on your loved one’s care needs.
Some sites also have information about local community resources that may be helpful.
3. Share Information With Family & Friends
While you may be the primary caregiver, there are likely other family and friends who want to be kept in the loop regarding how your loved one is doing.
Most care coordination sites typically have a social media style feed where you can post updates and photos of your loved one’s health status or fun things you did together with members of their care team. You can also post requests for support - such as medication reminders, transportation, or other care needs. This consistent communication allows all team members to be kept up to date, while at the same time, creating coordinated care.
These sites are password protected so only individuals that you give access to can view your loved one’s personal health information.
4. Supports Documentation
Not only does a care coordination site allow you to stay in touch with family members and friends, but it also makes it easier to document any health changes for your loved one’s health care providers.
When juggling so many other tasks, it’s hard to remember precisely what symptoms arose and when. Documenting as it happens gives your loved one’s healthcare professionals insight into the impact of the chronic disease on day-to-day functioning.
Note-taking features on care coordination sites also allow you to take notes when at appointments. Chronic illnesses can be complicated and digesting a lot of health information at once is overwhelming. Record the clinician or take notes at your loved one’s appointments using your care coordination site.
5. Makes Health Monitoring Seamless
Some care coordination sites connect with wearables and other gadgets to monitor vital signs.
For example, an Apple watch monitors sleep or blood pressure which can be automatically input into the care coordination site. Sometimes healthcare providers will make referrals or recommendations to utilize devices like these to keep regular monitoring of vital signs.
6. Educates Caregivers & Their Loved One’s Care Team
Many care coordination sites offer high-quality caregiver education within their platform. Some topics that may be relevant include dementia interventions, diabetes education, as well as caregiver wellness, and self-care. This keeps trusted information in one place and decreases a caregiver’s need to comb through various resources.
Consistent education is important for an individual’s care team. It’s crucial that all participating care providers have the same understanding of their loved one’s illness to address the patient’s needs.
7. Helps You Develop & Organize An Efficient Care Plan
Care plans are often associated with care settings such as hospitals or long-term care facilities. A care plan encompasses all the physical and emotional care needs of a new patient.
Caregivers can develop a care plan for their loved one living at home. You as your loved one’s caregiver can organize chronic conditions, diagnoses, and medications as well as special directions such as dietary changes.
Keep in mind that it may be helpful to include the primary care physician in developing this. Some healthcare systems and care coordination sites may allow you to integrate your loved one’s electronic health record (or EHR) into the site.
Additionally, as the primary caregiver, you can include details about preferences and day-to-day care needs- things that may not be reflected in the EHR.
Having a care plan means that in the event of an emergency, another team member could step in and provide similar care for your loved one.
A care plan is also beneficial in the event of a sudden transition resulting in your loved one requiring long-term care.
Ready To Start Using A Care Coordination Site?
Making sure all care team members are on the same page is a key aspect of providing effective care, even within a home care setting.
Using a care coordination site will help improve your loved one's quality of life and organize their care moving forward. Taking advantage of online care coordination sites lightens the load of organizing your loved one’s care needs and communicating with all team members.