Offering Care for the Caregiver
"......For all our assertions about the importance of caring in what we do, doctors as a profession have been slow to recognize family members and loved ones who care for patients at home. These “family caregivers” do work that is complex, physically challenging and critical to a patient’s overall well-being, like dressing wounds, dispensing medication, and feeding, bathing and dressing those who can no longer do so themselves.
Many of these caregiving tasks were once the purview of doctors and nurses, a central component of the “caring professions.” But over the past century, as these duties increasingly fell to individuals with little or no training, doctors and even some nurses began to confer less importance, and status, to the work of caregiving.
It comes as no surprise, then, that physicians now rarely, if ever, learn about what a family caregiver or health care aide must do unless they are faced with caring for their own loved ones. We doctors don’t know or aren’t always fully aware of what it takes to care for a patient after we leave the room......"
"........“Normally everyone is always focused on the patient, patient autonomy and the patient’s wishes in terms of the ethical standpoint,” said Dr. Virginia L. Hood, chairwoman of the Ethics, Professionalism and Human Rights Committee of the American College of Physicians and one of the paper’s authors. “But family caregivers are an important part of the health care team, too. We need to value these caregivers better, think about their needs and consider how they are central to the patient’s care, not just someone who happens to be pushing the wheelchair.”
Of particular importance is understanding how the work of caregiving can also give rise to a new set of medical issues: those of the caregiver....."