The Future of Heath Care Is Us

Former and current family caregivers lead the change to make caregiving better.

Last week, I attended an event that featured presentations from physicians about their vision for patients and consumers in 2030. The presenters focused on technology and support for the clinician team. You won’t be surprised to hear that a discussion of the family caregiver on the care team didn’t happen.

I really believe that any organizers of any health care conference that excludes family caregivers in any discussion are living in the past. The future of health care has arrived and its us. We’re the 24/7 care provider, advocate, problem-solver, planner and anticipator. Without us, our caree’s houses can’t be efficiently wired for technology. Without us, our caree’s care can’t be effectively monitored. Without us, a caree can’t be quickly discharged from a facility, like a hospital or nursing home, in order to save a health care system money. Without us, the health care system can’t create programs like “hospital at home” to save the health care system even more dollars.

Without us, the health care system collapses.

Because we live the flaws of the system, we create the solutions. In 1997, when I first developed the stages of caregiving concept, I concluded the experience with a final stage called the Godspeed Caregiver — the individual who, after caregiving ends, takes that personal caregiving experience and turns it into a greater good.

About eight years ago, I attended a meeting during which a former family caregiver reflected on the knowledge base he amassed during his caregiving experience. He expressed a frustration that he didn’t have a way to share that knowledge base.

With that in mind, I launched a training program in 2016 so that former family caregivers can turn that knowledge base into a caregiving coaching and consulting service. These Certified Caregiving Consultants now teach, support and guide family caregivers through their small businesses, podcasts, workshops, support groups and books.

In 2018, at the end of the Third National Caregiving Conference I hosted, I saw the true power of former family caregivers. They showed up to the conference as presenters, volunteers and business owners. A few days after the conference ended, I thought: Former family caregivers have arrived and they will change our experience.

Today, I see the most important impact of these former family caregivers; they inspire current family caregivers to make a difference now. Former family caregivers show the way by leading the change. Current family caregivers now amplify that change, regardless of where they are in their journey, to take this moment right now to advocate, to launch, to inspire, to improve.

Heath care systems that ignore family caregivers do so at their own peril. Our voice, our passion and our combined numbers of current and former family caregivers are the driving force in the health care system.

I’d love to know about the advocacy initiatives, volunteer work or business you started during or after your caregiving experience. Please share about the work your caregiving experience inspired in our comments section, below.

In addition, be sure to tell us about the organizations you lead. Your organization can serve family caregivers — or not. We’re leaders in our caregiving experience. We’re also leaders in the business world. I want to spotlight both roles. Create a listing in our a directory of organizations led by former and current family caregivers. Just click the link and then follow the instructions. (Note: Our soon-to-launch non-profit, The Caring Board, will house this directory.)

(Image by Ngo Minh Tuan from Pixabay)


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