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How Can Professionals Use the Model of Caregiver Resilience?

caregiver resilience graphic

When I first introduced the model of caregiver resilience, I explained that this is a learning model. In today’s installment of the series of blog posts on the model of caregiver resilience, I want to explain how care professionals can use this model to engage in learning through self-reflection or to facilitate the learning of others who are in caregiver roles.

Professionals Using the Model for Learning through Self-Reflection

Some time ago, as I was finalizing the model of caregiver resilience, I shared it with two friends, a married couple we had invited to our home for dinner. The wife is a social worker, and her husband is an engineer. Because of the wife’s professional background working with aging populations, I was keenly interested in her feedback about the model I had developed. She immediately saw the model’s value and offered some great insights to me.

While the social worker’s response was reaffirming, I was absolutely delighted to receive the following message the next day from her husband, the engineer:

“Aaron, I wanted to let you know that when I woke up this morning my mind was flowing with ideas of how your model of the 5 R’s of resiliency in caregiving is a framework to use for pondering on a new role I have at work.”

I was struck by the fact that a model developed for caregivers was of value to a professional engineer. My friend’s comments reveal the relevance of the model of caregiver resilience to a wide variety of professional situations.

He also highlighted how the model can be instrumental in the learning process of a professional. We can observe that he engaged in a process of framing, contextualizing, and thinking, as follows:

  • Framing: he viewed the model as a framework for pondering.
  • Contextualizing: he applied the model to his role at work.
  • Thinking: he let his mind flow with ideas.

If an engineer can learn from this model, then surely professionals in care organizations can do so as well. Whether you’re a physician, a nurse, a social worker, a certified nursing assistant, a therapist, an allied health professional, or a healthcare administrator, you can use the model to learn how to improve your resilience at work.

The model of caregiver resilience is a sort of lens that permits you to look at your work situation differently. As you examine how each part of the model applies to you, let the model “talk back” to you. If you use the model’s framework, apply it to your particular work context, and think expansively about the implications, many of the problems and challenges you’re experiencing within your caring role will crystallize, and potential solutions will emerge.

Professionals Using the Model to Facilitate Learning for Family Caregivers

There is a wide range of professionals who routinely engage with families in care-related situations. Social workers, counselors, and care managers have assumed responsibility to professionally support individuals and families through challenges associated with aging, illness, and disability. Skilled medical professionals treat their patients and interact with the families of the patients. Moreover, there are other professionals—such as attorneys, financial planners, clergy, realtors, and funeral directors—who find themselves in discussions with families struggling to care for loved ones.

The model of caregiver resilience is a practical resource that professionals can use to support the family caregivers they encounter. This can be done by using the model to facilitate a discussion with the family caregiver about their situation in order to identify problematic areas and develop strategies for improvement.

When facilitating this discussion, the professional adds one step—prompting—to the above process of framing, contextualizing, and thinking. “Prompting” represents the input of the professional in facilitating a learning opportunity for the family caregiver. The modified steps may be summarized as follows:

  • Framing: the professional presents the model of caregiver resilience.
  • Contextualizing: the professional references the model in the context of the family caregiver’s individual situation.
  • Prompting: the professional asks questions and makes comments to help the family caregiver engage in thoughtful reflection.
  • Thinking: the family caregiver and the professional “let their minds flow” about how the model can be applied in the family caregiver’s situation.

You’ll note in this scenario, the professional is instrumental in not only introducing the model but also joining with the family caregiver in applying the model. The model enables the professional to: 1) use shared language to analyze the situation with the family caregiver, 2) listen to the family caregiver’s thoughts, and 3) bring professional guidance to the discussion.

Both participants thus engage in a learning-oriented exchange that will produce insights as to how the family caregiver could approach caregiving more effectively. In turn, actions can be taken that will ultimately make caregiving better for both the caregiver as well as the care receiver. The model can be revisited again and again to evaluate progress and identify new ways to develop resilience as care-related circumstances change and evolve over time.

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Over the last several months, we have released a series of blog posts on Dr. Blight’s Model of Caregiver Resilience. By examining a care situation in light of the five “R” words (Roles, Relationships, Realities, Rewards, and Readiness) in the model, you can identify areas that are causing friction, figure out how to address challenges, and learn to make the most of your circumstances.

If you’d like to invite Dr. Blight to speak to your group, please contact us.