Navigating the Healthcare Landscape is a Matter of Perspectives
For some families who contact care management services, the road looks like (or may feel like) a slippery slope full of rocks and dead falls, while to another family, their care-giving journey is nothing more than a deserted island where strange things happen and no one speaks their language! No matter the landscape, each family has it’s own set of concerns and issues. And for reasons, only nature knows, it is my mission in life to help every family push through whatever the pitfalls are…
I always say; “It will dawn on you, life’s a journey!” Although my given name is “Dawn,” the fact remains, life is a journey. While being a caregiver is most rewarding, it is also very much a hardship or can be very burdensome or overwhelming for many loved ones. Let’s face it, the care-giving journey, simply, in and of itself can be overwhelming, not to mention, costly- in the sense of the two provisions God gives- that being time and money. In today’s environment the landscape appears to be most difficult, since not many of us have a lot of either time or money. That’s why I often get on my soapbox about planning ahead… but that’s another blog for another time!
Usually, the first question I ask each client where a precious family is represented is, “What is your primary issue….?” Believe me, there are many so-called issues, but typically a few standout as real pitfalls, such as little or no resources in the way of time, money and/or family (people). Think about it, if we all had large-enough extended families equipped mentally and physically who were intentional about caring for our aging loved ones, I would more than likely be back at the hospital working as a discharge case manager, or going back to school seeking a counseling degree… Or, if by chance there were no gaps or pitfalls in today’s healthcare delivery system, I would probably be more like that Maytag rep in the commercials- out of work! But that is not the case. Because the current healthcare system is full of gaps, no where roads, and dead ends, there will always be a need for navigation, and that’s where we certified care managers come in! We know the landscape, all too well-
With the confidence of the Disney character “Mary Poppins,” (don’t laugh, I love her- she and my mother and grandmother, are where my own courage is derived) I like to look every care-giver in the eye and assure them that while the road seems long and the going rough, it will be okay, no matter the terrain, or the weather, or the pitfalls, etc. Some how, someway, we all find a way to getting our loved on one over to that proverbial Jordan River, where then, God does the rest! On a personal note, sometimes I truly feel kindred spirit to George Washington leading the troupes over the Potomac, while keeping in mind that President Washington was also God dependent as a leader! It does take some time though to research who/where all of the best providers are for certain needs for an aging loved one in the community in which the family lives. Research is a big part of what I do in my off time. That’s probably the best reason to include care management- since as navigators, we know the best people about the landscape! Yes, there are cases where the family and/or caregivers live in one place and the care recipient live in another, but thank goodness for aging life care professionals networking all across the United States- so we can deal with that as well!
I like to include each and every family member, decision maker, concerned person who has a say, or any human being that will be in the core-team a chance to voice their opinion on what the obstacles are or seem to be, and then, as a group, the plan of care concludes with finding the best/safest route. Oh no, it’s never easy… If you have ever been involved in caring for a loved one, then you already know the difficulty in finding the right provider for the right issue at the right time and for the right resource! Right? Over the hills and through the woods we go… As long as we have the maps reviewed and the route discussed as a team, and Lord willing the team is all on the same page (okay, that can be a fiasco at times…) there is no where we can’t go or no thing we can’t do as a team. And really, that is what it truly takes, or where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. When we create a team, we can just go!
So while no two cases are ever alike, it’s a matter of perception as to how we get from where we are and to where we want to or would like to go. So we need a team, and a plan. Care-giving is much like a journey, where we join an aging loved one in theirs. In essence, families need a road map and a discussion about the trail, as did the pioneers who came here from the east. To me, the one thing that every case seems to have in common, is that once an effective team is put in place, it’s only a matter of time when things get going in such a way that it’s like chariots of fire. Oh yeah! Or at least, we all sure try!