Caregiving Planning - Step 2 : Setting Caregiving Goals

This is the Second Post in a series of posts on how to develop a Caregiving Plan.

Developing a Caregiving Plan allows you to:

  1. Better understand what you want to achieve,
  2. Determine the tasks, activities, people and tools you need to interact with in order to meet your caregiving goals;
  3. Better organize your time, money and resources to meet both the needs of the care recipient and yourself.

As with all plans, the value of developing the Caregiving Plan is in doing the thinking, research and identifying options. The final plan is something you can go back to as things change to understand the impact of these changes on all aspects of caregiving and to get a clearer pictures of your options moving forward. It is also something to share with your care team so they understand your priorities.

Developing a Caregiving Plan is not something that needs to be rushed and there is no right or wrong plan. Take the time you need to work through the steps and topics and do the research.

Email jmkuntz@im4ward if you would like the free Caregiving Plan Template

Setting Caregiving Goals

What is a goal? According to the online Oxford Dictionary, a goal is defined as "an aim or desired result". When setting goals for a caregiving situation, you need to address not only the care recipient's and family's wants and needs, but your own as the primary caregiver.

Set Timelines for the Goals

Don’t try to imagine every situation. Focus on what you want to achieve in the short to medium term; between now and 3-6 months from now. You can always revisit your list of goals as the situation changes, and once you have a good handle on the short to medium term, you can then start to address longer term goals.

Define Who Contributes to Goal Creation

The first person to talk to is the care recipient. Have an open and honest conversation about the issues both of you are experiencing. They may not be aware of the impact caregiving is having on your life, or they may have their own fears of which you aren't aware. Having this conversation helps to take some of the burden of care planning off your shoulders.

The second potential contributor to setting caregiving goals is actually a group of people. I call them caregiving stakeholders. This is the group of people who have an interest in the caregiving outcomes of the care recipient, even if they don't actively participate. For example, close friends or siblings of the care recipient and your own siblings. Determine who these people are and ask them what they think is most important for providing care to the care recippient. It doesn't mean you have to do everything they say. Instead it helps to start an on-going conversation with these people, allows you to better understand their concerns, and finally it helps you respond to their concerns more effectively if you choose not to follow their advice.

And lastly, (but not leastly), yourself as the primary caregiver. Be very honest with yourself. You probably never received caregiving training, have your own life and responsibilities and are also more than likely a spouse, partner, child or sibling to the caregiver which comes with its own family dynamics. Understanding your own strengths and weaknesses and emotional response to the caregiving situation will help you set goals that will ensure you remain healthy and strong as you go through this journey.

Ask the Following Goal Setting Questions

Using the Caregiving Web Activity Categories as a start, write down the goals you want to achieve for each category of activity. (email jmkuntz@im4ward.com for free caregiving plan worksheets). Below are a set of questions that might help you through this exercise.

1. What are the Care Recipient’s key goals in this area? Eg: Stay in the house; be able to play bridge with friends; not feel so isolated; etc. Obtain input from the Care Recipient on this question, don’t assume you know the answer.

2. What are the Stakeholder's caregiving goals for the care recipient?

3. Are these goals realistic given the care recipient's health, support requirements and financial situation?

4. What caregiving outcome do I want to achieve? Eg: Keep dad safe in his home without me worrying as much as I do; obtain financial support to keep dad safe in his home; find a good home for dad where he is safe and likes the people

5. What worries me the most? Eg: his safety; him being taken advantage of; being able to afford the help; being able to keep up with the caregiving demands; not having the information I need to feel confident to meet the caregiving needs.

6. Do I feel I have enough knowledge to provide the level of care I would like to, at the level of standards I would like?

7. Do I have enough energy and patience to deliver these caregiving tasks? The answer could be yes; no; or most of the time. If the answer is most of the time, it is important to have someone you can fall back on to help out when your schedule gets too tight or you get sick. If this is the case, put the need for backup support as a key goal.

8. Which elements of caregiving am I good at and I enjoy doing?

9. Which elements of caregiving am I not good at and I don’t enjoy doing? Eg: toileting makes me really uncomfortable;

10. What do I most resent about being a caregiver? Eg: Never having time for myself; feeling guilty about taking time for myself, particularly when it is in conflict with providing a caregiving activity; having to manage the caregiving details and be the entertainment coordinator; always being responsible; never receiving help from others; etc. Don’t overlook these questions because resentment is often a reflection of your unmet needs or an indication of when your boundaries are being crossed. You need to address these issues for your own wellbeing.

Creating the Goal Statements

Based on your answers to these questions, define, at most, 4 goals per activity. More than 4 goals and you won't be able to achieve them all, or they are really tasks you want to complete. Remember that a goal is a broader statement under which you can set tasks to achieve that goal. For example:

A Goal Statement: Keep Dad in His Home

A Task Statement: Get an Occupational Therapist Assessment of the home to see what needs to be done to make it safe for dad.

When you are done, look for goals that are repetitive across the care activity categories. These are your overarching goals that you will use to guide you in caregiving decision making over time.

Stay tuned for the next installment of Creating a Caregiving Plan where we will discuss Defining Goal Supporting Tasks.

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