By Paula Erwin-Toth MSN, RN, CWOCN, CNS
November is National Caregiver Month. Unpaid caregivers are the unsung army of health care providers. They give their time, energy, resources and most importantly love to those in need. Years ago images in television and movies depicted multi-generational families living under one roof in peace and harmony. Today's realities of caring for a loved one with significant medical, psychological and psychiatric needs largely go unacknowledged and unappreciated.
The benefits of having a loved one cared for in the home surrounded by family, pets and familiar surroundings cannot be quantified. Caregiver burnout, financial hardships and lack of resources are well documented. As wound care providers we are well aware of the importance of caregivers in maintaining skin integrity and promoting wound healing. For those of you providing home care visits, you see first-hand the environment and resources your patients and their caregivers experience day in and day out.
Last month, we experienced a government shut down and threats that failure to raise the debt ceiling would cause the U.S. government to default on our national debt and possibly lead to a national and worldwide recession. I happened to be in Washington, D.C. when our elected officials seemed to be playing 'chicken'—not with cars, but with our nation's future.
My grandson got to see first-hand politicians and political reporters at work. As soon as we checked into our hotel we walked up to the Capitol. It was the evening the debt ceiling deadline was looming. When we arrived we met Senator McCain and Anderson Cooper on the steps of Capitol Hill—both men were very gracious interacting with an excited 12-year-old and complimented me on my choice of nursing as a career.
The political parties reached an agreement the night we arrived in D.C. so my husband and grandson were able to see some of our nation's treasures while I attended the American Academy of Nursing Meeting. Despite this last minute agreement, this may all happen again early next year. However, arguing who is right or wrong is beyond the scope of this blog and the skill of this author.
What I do know is that we, like our patients and caregivers, move forward with the resources we have at hand. All of us need to advocate for quality, accessibility and fairness. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid are calling for more accountability of health care organizations and providers to achieve the triple aim of "Better Care, Better Quality, Better Price." Along with those laudable goals we need to add "Better Appreciation" of all caregivers who day in and day out provide needed services to their loved ones not because they have to, but because they want to. Caregivers - this one is for you!
About The Author
Paula Erwin-Toth has over 30 years of experience in wound, ostomy and continence care. She is a well-known author, lecturer and patient advocate who is dedicated to improving the care of people with wounds, ostomies and incontinence in the US and abroad.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, Kestrel Health Information, Inc., its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.
The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author, and do not represent the views of WoundSource, HMP Global, its affiliates, or subsidiary companies.