Helpful Hints for Providers When Reviewing the Family Caregiver Guide With Families
Module 1 — “Introduction to Traumatic Brain Injury”
- When reviewing the anatomy of the brain, show the caregiver the parts of their family member's brain affected by the TBI and the areas of functioning controlled by those parts of the brain.
- When reviewing Chapter 4, review the tests used to diagnose service members/veterans with TBI with the caregiver. Also, review the current treatment that the service member/veteran is receiving.
- Discuss complications and review potential complications the service member/veteran may encounter.
- Discuss the levels of the Ranchos Los Amigos Scale and where the service member currently is on the scale.
- Reassure caregivers that their family member will not suffer all the effects that are described in Module 2 and encourage them to remember that they are not alone in this process. Most effects fade over time.
- When discussing the members of the patient's health care team, remind the caregiver that the “Caregiver’s Companion” is a great tool to use to keep track of all the contact information for the team members.
- Throughout each chapter, review the effects that the caregiver’s service member/veteran is experiencing, discuss what the caregiver can do to help, and answer any questions that may arise.
- In Chapter 3 of Module 2 (Page 44), point out the techniques they can use to help the injured service member/veteran cope with cognitive effects. These techniques include compensation strategies, cueing, 5W strategy, feedback and problem-solving.
- Discuss the importance of keeping all medical and military records together. Remind caregivers that they can use the “Caregiver’s Companion” to do this.
- Review advocacy information with caregivers in Chapter 3 of Module 3. Emphasize that they are not alone. Page 15 points out the basics about speaking on behalf of their loved ones.
- Remind caregivers that their needs come first. Pages 22 and 23 provide suggestions for how to cope with frequently-experienced caregiver challenges. There is also a 13-point stress test provided for caregivers in this Module on Page 27. This is a great tool to assist caregivers with self-care.
- If there are children in the family, review age-appropriate ways to talk to children about TBI provided on Pages 34 and 35.
- Remind caregivers that they are not alone. Families can build on their strengths through caring and appreciation, commitment, communication, community and family ties, working together, and both flexibility and openness to change. Caregivers should understand their limits and accept help from others when in need.
- Transitioning home can be a stressful time for caregivers. Review Chapters 7 and 8 to make sure they understand what to expect before, during and after the transition. There are helpful tools to aid caregivers in maintaining control of medication, the health care support team, safety, schedules, and outside assisting organizations.
- Be sure to review with the caregiver the rights and resources available to them regarding the Family and Medical Leave Act, guardianship, power of attorney, and many other everyday issues they may encounter.
- It is important for providers to remind caregivers to take pride in the fact that they are caring for another human being. Journaling is a great way for them to reflect on their experiences, both good and bad. Remind caregivers that there are personal stories throughout the guide from others who have experienced similar circumstances.
- Emphasize to caregivers the importance of advocating for their injured service member/veteran as that person moves through the system. Their point of contact should be the first person they can turn to. They will help them find all the information and services they may need. Review Table 1 on Page 3 with the caregiver to ensure they know the case management team members.
- Remind caregivers that the information presented in this module is current as of the publication date (2010). This information changes over time. Point out the websites on Page V as sources of current information.
- Direct the caregiver to the self-assessment tool on Page 9 of the Module to help determine what services are most needed. Use this tool to identify the levels of stress or concern the caregiver may have, to better identify which benefits and services should be explored in more detail.
To see additional interactive educational tools, please visit the Center for Excellence in Medical Multimedia, our multimedia partner for the Family Caregiver Guide. This center, which created www.traumaticbraininjuryatoz.org, is a dynamic initiative from the Office of the Surgeon General, supplying award-winning interactive multimedia for patient education throughout the Military Health System.