We have all heard the alarming statistics regarding healthcare and caregiving; according to AARP, there are 66 million informal caregivers in the United States alone. Fifty-one percent (51%) of family caregivers are between the ages of eighteen and forty-nine (18-49) and the economic value of these “informal caregivers” service is approximately $450 billion! One in eight Americans currently have been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, leaving fifteen million unpaid family members to care for their aging and ailing family and friends. Are you getting a clear picture? This is a large demographic of people who are being thrown into a role of caregiving with no formal training and possibly at a moment’s notice.
When I “met” Melody of eCaring via email, I was excited to learn all I could about the product she had contacted me about. Between writing The Medical Day Planner and creating an iPhone app (available in the App Store under “The Medical Day Planner”) to help caregivers track everything from contacts, medications, tests & scans, procedures, appointments to hospitalizations, it is clear that I am a huge advocate of organization, tracking and more organization. Any time I find a tool to help caregivers stay organized, up-to-speed and educated about the patient’s care/progression, I am more than happy to share.
The beautiful thing about eCaring is that it was created by caregivers for caregivers. Call me biased, but I have always had a hard time taking advice from individuals who have no experience; this is in regards to anything in life. Let’s be honest, no matter how raspy a thirteen-year-old’s voice may be, they will never be able to fully sing the Blues with their limited life experience. Having a program for caregiving designed and beta tested by caregivers has truly helped create an all-inclusive guide/program. eCaring, The Heart of Better Care Management, has honestly thought of everything!
The greatest concern for a primary caregiver (or care manager) is knowing what is going on with the patient while the primary caregiver is not present and someone else is in the caregiving role. Imagine you are the primary live-in caregiver for your father who has late stage prostate cancer. Like many Americans, you still need to work part-time away from your father’s home to generate enough income to pay the bills. Your job allows you to work in the office half of the day, and work from home in the afternoon. While you are away at the office Monday through Wednesday, your sister cares for your Dad, Thursday morning your Aunt Lisa cares for your dad and on Friday morning the neighbor lady checks on him. You now have three other individuals who are helping you care for your dad; all of who need to be on the same page as far as what information is important to track and report back to you. (Getting complicated yet?) It is the “reporting back” that can get tricky, and I have always said “caregiving does not need to be a lesson in memorization.” If all the caregivers for a single individual had one book/guide/program to document in, the “reporting back” would be easy, organized and accurate.
eCaring is an online program that takes the thinking out of what needs to be documented and tracked. Each day is broken into forty-eight, half-hour sections. Each section can be color coded to show if the patient is either sleeping (blue), awake (green) or outside (teal). You also have the option to click on a half-hour section and document other daily activities including
• personal care
• mental state
• special problems
• vital signs
Each of the above sections is then again broken into several picture coded options that once “clicked” are automatically moved into the time section selected. Under “Personal Care,” there are picture icons for bath, dentures, wash hair, etc. “Eating” options include meal, snack, refused meal, refused beverage, etc. Are you following me? An example would be
At 8am, Dad is awake, has used the toilet, brushed his teeth and gotten into the shower. As the caregiver, I would code the 8am section green for “awake”, click the “Toilet” picture under the Toileting section, click the “Brush Teeth” and “Shower” picture under the Personal Care section.
As the day continues, if all the caregivers involved continue to keep eCaring up-to-date, any new caregiver who comes into the picture will know at a glance exactly what has occurred with the patient that day, week, and month. The program is intuitive, easy to use and certainly worth checking out if you are finding yourself in a caregiving role. In fact, the program is so in depth and offers so much more than I described here, do yourself a favor and go to www.eCaring.com for more information.