Advocating for help as a caregiver is essential. If you undertake all responsibilities on your own, you will find yourself easily physically and emotionally exhausted.
Regardless of whether you are parents of children with disabilities, spousal, or external caregivers, you do not have to do everything alone. It is possible for you to lobby support from the community around you, and this additional assistance will definitely pay off. Oftentimes, most families and caregivers recognize the need to advocate for care, yet do not know how or where to start.
Donna Thomson has 5 steps a caregiver should take to advocate for care:
1. Analyzing what help you already have available
It is necessary to recognize what various forms of support you already have. It can be informal support, such as a friend who offers to take all your children for a sleepover, or formal support, such as a respite program for your child. Establishing the help you already have available can then help you better determine what you need.
2. Listing down your daily tasks
Listing down your daily tasks with regard to the care and well-being of your family can help you identify responsibilities that you have to do as a caregiver, and tasks that someone else can potentially aid you with. Place a mark beside the latter tasks to organize your list as such.
This step is also important to help you recognize what type of support you need. For instance, if you spend more time in the hospital caring for your family member with disabilities, then the assistance you need will probably be within your household.
3. Identifying what kind of help you need and where to find it
One way to source for the help you need is by seeking out your local community. Your local community can provide you with various resources. It could be anyone or anything from a family member, a neighbor, a peer support group, or a church community. You could also employ assistance from high school students who have to complete volunteer hours.
While you search for assistive networks, you should also create specific advocacy goals, such as ‘having someone to look after the children and help them with homework so that I can cook dinner.’ Forming a team of family and friends who can work together as a team is also useful to help you look for resources and solutions. “Remember, you are searching for both places that might offer programming AND people who can help you advocate,” Donna stresses.
4. The ‘strategic inquiry’ for cultivating a champion within your target resource organization
If you’ve decided the help you need lies within an agency or resource center, the ‘strategic inquiry’ is a process of collating information once you have located the appropriate organization. Donna explains the process like this:
“A cold call to the office of the Director to ask about getting help into your home might not be successful. But, an information gathering appointment (with you or someone who has agreed to help you advocate) will very likely reveal some strategic next steps.”
Locating and working with someone within the organization that fully understands your needs will aid you in obtaining the help you truly need.
5. Organizing your resources a.k.a. the ‘briefing note’
Organization is essential in ensuring that all your important documents, such as medical reports and contact details, are in order. To lighten your workload, you can appoint someone in your support team to help you with this.
Similarly, a ‘briefing note’ is a tool that contains all the necessary information you require for your advocacy efforts. It should contain information about your family member with disabilities and the key supporters in his/her life. It should also include a short explanation of your situation and the list of needs you thus require. Lastly, it should contain questions that you have for potential target resources. Some examples include, “What advice do you have for our family?” or “Who else can I speak with about our request?”
“Good practice in advocacy will not guarantee outcomes, but it will deliver greater opportunities for success."
Advocating for help can reap benefits for you and your family in one way or another, and that is important in maintaining a healthy relationship between caregiver and family.
Share this post with caregivers you know to show them that they, too, can find the support they need.