Communication between family members and with either professional or hired Caregivers can be complicated. For out of town family members it can be more difficult as they often feel left out or in the dark as to what is happening with an elderly parent, and without the information to participate in important decisions. Mis-communication can lead to conflict, confusion, repetition and sometimes problems with care. Elder Voice rarely focuses on commercial products in our newsletter,however this month we highlight The Care Tools.
The Care Tools is a simple, online tool that can help solve some of the communication difficulties that arise when caring for Seniors by allowing users to organize and share information with each other.
The Care Tools has users begin by setting up a Team. Whoever is on the team is able to add information in several ways, and view the information and postings that have been added by other team members. The team can also include the person receiving care so they are able to be a part of or even lead, the care that they receive. Once a Team is set up, there are multiple pages for information and care.
The “Tools” pages include a Care Organizer, a monthly calendar. Appointments, visits, and activities can be added by any team member, so that everyone is aware of the whole picture, and will not inadvertently double book.
On the “Care Receiver Profile ” page , the care receiver’s concerns can be listed, and scales set up so that progress,decline, and goals can be monitored. For instance, if the individual is receiving physiotherapy, a scale can be set up so that progress in walking can be viewed. The Care Tools will automatically graph the changes along the way. The Care Receiver page includes medications, emergency information, and risks.
The Tasks page show what needs to be done, and tasks accomplished, so that there is an ongoing record of what needs to be done, or was done, and when it was completed. it can help prevent duplication of effort, or worse, tasks falling between the cracks.
There is a page for Caregiver issues and a page for the Team,which documents contact information, availability, and more. The Journal pages shares thoughts, memories, and can be used as ongoing journal of information. There is also a page where Team members can leave messages for each other or the care receiver.
The Care Tools could be used by professionals and friends as well as caregivers and family members. For example, nursing home or Assisted Living staff could use it to communicate with families. Physicians who are team members could log on before a patient’s appointment to track how the patient has been managing. Other professionals could help to set up goals with programmes such as wound care, walking, ability to do tasks about the house that can be monitored quickly and easily. Friends could document when they are going to visit, who is taking someone to an appointment, or see when and if other Team members or the Care receiver are available.
Because The Care Tools is based on inclusiveness and sharing, Team members need to keep confidentiality, liability, and other legal issues in mind. Anyone who is a Team member has access to all information so discretion in what is posted is important, as well as who is allowed to become a Team Member. Within a Team, information is secure and private. The Team Leader always has full control over who is a member of the Team.
The Care Tools is paid for through a minimal monthly subscription fee, with a one month free trial. Visit their website at www.thecaretools.com. For readers of Elder Voice, The Care Tools is offering three months free with a one year subscription, valid until Dec. 31.2010. Simply email firstname.lastname@example.org and mention Elder Voice or Diamond Geriatrics after you have created your team.
For more information on The Care Tools, contact their founder, Robert Bowden, Ph.D. at (604) 733-1655.
When A Loved One is Forgetting to Take Medication: Systems That Help
Elderly and ill people are often taking eight or more medications with complicated schedules and restrictions. Some medications must be taken with meals, some should not be. Some can be taken with meals, but not with dairy products. Some can not be taken within a certain time limit of the others. If the correct schedules and dosages are not maintained. the result can be over or under-medication.
Medication mis-management can lead to falls, delirium, malnutrition, and behavioural changes. It is a leading cause of admission to hospital and seniors housing.
There are now several commercial systems available that aid in helping people remember when and how to take their medications.
The simplest form is called a dosette, a plastic box that labels the day and sometimes time for medications, with the medications placed in each slot by the person or family. Pharmacies will “bubble pack” medciations for up to a month at a time, so that all a person has to do is open the bubble for each time as indicated.
There are mechanical and electronic systems that dispense medications on a set schedule. Some of these will sound an alert or a voice message to remind the individual it is time. There are some systems that will call a family member or caregiver if the medication that was dispensed has not been picked up within a certain period of time. Some systems can be monitored by an off site, 24 hour monitoring company that also alerts whoever is listed as a primary responder.
Elderpost’s section on Equipment for Sale/Rent, (Home Monitoring/Medication/Safety Systems) lists several medication monitoring systems. Click here to view.