People who provide home-based care to family members once home health care services have been used up report feeling unprepared for the work, a study published in the Milbank Quarterly found. Caregivers frequently report feeling anxious, isolated and depressed over the course of their family member's case management.
For the study, researchers assessed the experiences of family caregivers from the time survivors of stroke or brain injury were discharged from the hospital or nursing home to the time the patient was accepted into a certified home health agency program and the transition to family care alone. The authors found that between one-third and half of family caregivers reported feeling unprepared for assuming care responsibilities after former home health services ended. Researchers also found that even with short-term formal care services in place, family caregivers provided three-quarters of the care.
Researchers recommend that certified home health agencies:
- Teach family caregivers what level of home health care service they can expect and what options are available to them;
- Take into account family caregivers' and patients' needs in discharge and care plans; and
- Train home care professionals to explain appropriate care to family caregivers and encourage them to seek help when necessary.
- Using social workers more extensively to coordinate care and support for family caregivers;
- In notices of home care-termination, providing resources detailing where caregivers can seek help with the transition from professional to family home care; and
- Creating programs that provide support services, training and financial help to family caregivers (Levine et al., Milbank Quarterly, June 2006).