Improving Caregiver Support with Targeted Assessments

Caregivers are individuals who care for someone who is ailing or nearing the end of life. The majority of caregivers are family members, including children, parents, and spouses. Occasionally, close friends and extended family members will take on the role of caregiver. Providing this type of care at home can be an overwhelming responsibility, taxing emotional, physical, and financial resources. Caregivers who assume the role in its entirety, without reaching out for support from others, are at risk for increased negative psychological and physical health outcomes and mortality. Understanding how to best meet the needs of caregivers is important to individuals providing care and those in their charge. Aine Greene of the Discipline, Palliate and Support Services Department at Flinders University in Australia recently compared traditional palliative care to dedicated facilitator assessment intervention in a group of 66 caregivers.

The intervention group was visited on three separate occasions by a facilitator whose only job was to support them and assist them in getting help through various networks of family and friends. If this was not available, the facilitator assisted the caregiver in connecting with community organizations designed to offer additional palliate care help. Greene assessed the two groups before and after the intervention for levels of perceived support, stress, and anxiety and found that the caregivers in the targeted intervention had better outcomes in multiple measures at four and eight weeks post-intervention. “There were objective measures of improved support within the intervention group over time for caregivers through the active engagement of the community network facilitator,” Greene said. Specifically, the intervention group was less fatigued, perceived more social support, and had less resentment about taking on the role of caregiver. Additionally, these participants were more willing to seek out and ask for help when they needed it.

The results demonstrated in this study clearly show that personalized assessments can help caregivers manage the burdens associated with taking care of those they love. Future work should extend these findings by examining caregivers with a more diverse demographic make-up and by measuring outcomes over a longer period of time.

Greene, Aine, Sanchia Aranda, Jennifer J. Tieman, Belinda Fazekas, and David C. Currow. Can assessing caregiver needs and activating community networks improve caregiver-defined outcomes? A single-blind, quasi-experimental pilot study: Community facilitator pilot. Palliative Medicine 26.7 (2012): 917-23. Print.

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  • Marie G

    Marie G

    November 21st, 2012 at 5:03 AM

    If you have never had to take care of a family member or friend who is hurt and constantly suffering you have no idea how isolating and lonely this can make you feel.
    You want to do anything that you can to take away the pain and the suffering but you feel so helpless that really it ultimately turns into being a very depressing experience for you.
    I took care of my aunt for a very long time with little help and it almost brought me to the verge of insanity, not because I did not want to do it but because I lacked the support that I needed to make it through that trying time.
    I would encourage anyone in this position to seek out the help of others because this is one big thing that you can’t do alone, nor should you have to.

  • Stephen


    November 21st, 2012 at 11:57 AM

    It’s often the love and concern that drives people to become somone’s caregiver.The enthusiasm dies away in a short time most often and it starts to seem like a chore.Lets be honest here,no matter how close the person or his relationship being responsible for everything about someone else is very tough.

    In such a juncture, a helping hand or even some guidelines are a welcome blessings and I’m not surprised they have been proven to help the caregivers.

  • r.madison


    November 21st, 2012 at 11:42 PM

    my cousin became my aunt’s caregiver when she was confined to her bed.needless to say my cousin almost always looked fatigued and her participation in social and family gatherings dwindled.she is the kind of person who would never seek anybody else’s help and I think it worked agaianst her.the few times I see her she seems very stressed.

    I do not know how to get her any similar help.any links or channels that can offer some help or at least training as to how she can help herself?because the lack of socializing is definitely having an impact on her but I don t think there’s much she can do about it considering how she always needs to be by my aunt s side.



    November 22nd, 2012 at 3:04 PM

    Its always nice to have some help when you are taking care of someone. Doing so entirely on your own is almost impossible and quite frankly an emotionally and physically taxing job. Sharing responsibility or care, for whoever it is, is the way forward because there is only so much weight one person can carry!

  • Rosalinda


    November 22nd, 2012 at 6:50 PM

    I’ve been in this situation before and the mere fact that you have got to manage everything just kind of clouds your mind and you do not seek out help that is available out there. To have a facilitator who will remind you of that and point in the right direction can be a real help. This is something caregivers definitely deserve and I would love to see this catching on.

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