Aware Senior Care Blog

 A Holistic Approach to Providing Home Care Services

A Holistic Approach to Providing Home Care Services

At Aware, we believe in taking a holistic approach with every client by considering the whole person and their full range of needs, not just within the scope of home care services we can provide.

Gathering Important Information

As with any home care agency, when we receive a call asking for services, we start by collecting information. First, we gather practical details such as the potential client’s name, address, and phone number. We also ask for a description of the potential client. We then do a preliminary environmental check, asking if there are pets, smokers, or loaded weapons in the home. Finally, whether or not the client needs assistance with personal care, we schedule the assessment with an RN. We feel it is important to include a medical perspective with all assessments. Often, when we arrive for the assessment, we are greeted with comments like, “I’m so glad the nurse is here!” Clients seem to have an innate trust for the profession and seem relieved that a nurse is present.  

I like to start with a simple request: “Tell me about you.” Then, I listen as I jot down notes. In nearly all cases, the client will give their medical history and describe the parts of their body that hurt or don’t “work like they used to.” I ask them to describe their typical day, beginning from the time they wake up. Using the knowledge of disease progression, I ask about how they get out of bed, bathe, dress, groom, and move around. Depending on the client’s situation, the discussion may be very brief or in-depth. We cover all aspects of the client’s physical status and how they function in their home. We discuss driving, shopping, meal preparation/nutrition, laundry, and all the basics tasks required for maintaining a home.

Sounds comprehensive, doesn’t it? Truly, that is just our starting point. We also feel it is essential that we understand who is involved in the client’s life. Were they (or are they currently)  involved in the community as a volunteer, coach, or spectator to local sports or grandchildren’s sports and music programs? Are they involved in the religious community? Did they once enjoy going to the symphony/concerts/restaurants/luncheons? Are there activities in their life that they miss? How can we help them return to those activities? What are their hobbies? What brings them joy? Every person is unique and it is fascinating to learn about their lives. They, in turn, are amazed that we find this to be important. 

Once we establish their physical needs (if any) and how they would like to live their life, we find out who is already “on their team.” We truly believe it takes a village for all people to live well, which is why we evaluate each client’s “Thrive Tribe,” asking if anyone is currently providing help in any way. Then we ask the hard question: can they continue to do so?

What Works Best For You?

I once did an assessment for a client who needed companion care. She managed her own bathing and dressing, but she wanted her daughter in the house when she took a shower. The client no longer drove so her daughter did her shopping, took her to appointments, and helped her with daily tasks. The client loved to shop and admitted that she moved much slower than her daughter. The daughter said that by the time they decided what meals the Mom wanted, made the shopping list, did the shopping, and put the groceries away, they were too tired to go out to lunch. They both dearly missed this activity.   

As such, this mother-daughter pair requested services to prepare meals, do the laundry, and change the linen. The daughter then asked if the caregiver could take her mother out to lunch once a week. I asked them both if we could offer an alternative. I asked them to instead picture a caregiver and her mother talking about meals, checking the kitchen for what is already on hand, and creating a shopping list. They could then go shopping, the caregiver doing the work of selecting the item from the shelf, placing them in the cart, taking the bags from the cart and putting them into the car, taking them from the car and unloading them in the house. They could then prepare meals together in just the way the mother wanted her food prepared. 

On other days, the mother could take her shower while the caregiver did the laundry and light housekeeping. They could go for a walk in the neighborhood or visit a friend. Without all the chores, the client’s daughter would have the time to go out to lunch with her mom. They loved the idea. This allowed the daughter to return to being the daughter, instead of the caregiver. 

Getting Help from the Thrive Tribe

Another important question we ask is in regard to people who are important in the lives of the client. We have found that some family members or friends are thrilled to drive the client to and from church, the Senior Center, or a movie. Many have wanted to help but didn’t know what to offer, or they didn’t want to commit to an every day obligation. A friend from book club, for example, may be happy to provide transportation to and from the event once each month. 

Some seniors prefer more time in their homes. Helping them use Skype or FaceTime to see family members is a wonderful service for these clients, as is recording favorite programs, old movies, and music. Help them invite friends to their home by assisting the client in hosting a luncheon or an afternoon tea.

Remember, also, that the Thrive Tribe refers to family near and far. Out of town family can plan a weekend to relieve local family and friends who act as caregivers. If visiting is not an option, planned phone calls are a great alternative. Also, church groups and families with young children can be a great resource for people to visit with the client in their home. 

Ultimately, we feel it is essential to look at the whole person. An individual is not defined by their medical conditions or their physical limitations. Everyone has unique gifts and talents, at every age. Everyone has the capability to add value. Just imagine the living history inside each of our seniors! Helping them thrive in all of these ways - and more -  is a privilege we take very seriously. 

By Gina Murray, RN

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