Caregiver Factsheet

Posted on December 30, 2021

What Questions Should I Ask as a caregiver?

It is understandable that you may be overwhelmed at times and not know what to ask or where to begin. By jotting down questions before your appointments, you can be sure to cover everything you need to know.

Consider the following queries when talking to technicians, doctors, and other health support team members:

  • What course of treatment and recovery can one expect?
  • What timeframe can be expected with this recovery and treatment schedule?
  • How can I get in contact with others who are in a similar situation?
  • Why my loved one has been prescribed this exact medicine?
  • Why is the dose varying?
  • Why does my loved one need this test or procedure?

Finally, after an appointment, it can be easy not to remember what info your healthcare professionals and doctor's team may have shared with you because you were, understandably, engaged more in the discussion than in writing down that information. Request a friend or family member to join you for essential appointments and take notes.

What is My Role as a Caregiver?

You are your loved one's support—and it is crucial to be very comfortable with that responsibility. To do so with effect, ask questions and get informed. Ask the doctor, “Did I hear this right?” or “I need you to explain that to me in less technical language." If your doctor uses terms that confuse you or are not familiar with, let them know. Also, be sure to convey your end goals to your treatment team. They will help break those long-term goals into shorter-term goals according to your treatment plan and which are more convenient.

What does a caregiver do?

Caregivers and housekeepers have many identical functions in the workplace. Their general work may include the following:

  • Kitchen work, cooking, and meal preparation, including shopping for food.
  • Laundry. House cleaning, housekeeping, and washing dishes.
  • Childcare, which may involve bathing, and supervision, and diaper changing. 
  • Eldercare may involve assistance with doctor visits, and bathing, companionship.  

What are some safety and health issues for caregivers?

There are many potential health and safety hazards associated with caregiving and housekeeping duties, including:

  • Risk of illness or infection due to blood or bodily fluids exposure when changing diapers, performing first aid, etc.
  • Risk of exposure to contagious diseases if working in close contact with diseased individuals or in areas where infected people live or visit.
  • Exposure to chemicals in household cleaning products.
  • Exposure to soiled linen.
  • Performing repetitive tasks or working in awkward postures.
  • Risk of injury or pain from lifting or carrying heavy loads.
  • Slips falls and trips.
  • Working with potentially hazardous tools or other medical equipment.
  • Risk of burns from deep fryers, ovens, and steam from pots.
  • Fatigue, stress, and other health problems from working shifts or long working hours.

What are some preventative measures for a caregiver? 

  • Know the potential risks of your place of work and the activities you perform.
  • Learn safe lifting techniques.
  • Frequent hand washing, other measures, and routine practices are vital for reducing contamination. Be sure to use moisturizers and other safety measures to keep your skin from drying and dermatitis.
  • Always wear proper personal protective equipment for the task.
  • Wear shoes with non-skid soles.
  • Know emergency contact numbers and keep them immediately available.
  • Review your employer's violence prevention program, and if they do not have one, encourage them to develop one.

What are some good general safe work practices?

  • Practice safe lifting techniques.
  • Follow or establish safety procedures for working alone, working alone with patients, or avoiding performing alone wherever possible.
  • Get current training on chemical hazards and SDSs.
  • Know basic and emergency first aid.
  • Follow company safety rules.
  • Know how to report hazards.
  • Practice reasonable housekeeping procedures.
  • Practice safe handling of the patient.
  • Understand the risks linked with blood-borne diseases (e.g., hepatitis)