caregivers play a complex role as family caregivers. a new study highlights the opportunities for greater caregiver support.

Caregiver support with home healthcare services is increasingly necessary as caregivers take on increasingly complex medical and nursing tasks.

A study of family caregivers has found that home health care support services are a critical tool in the post-hospitalization setting.

Assistant Clinical Professor Michael Bueno, MSN, RN, CNL, was a co-investigator on “‘Doing the Right Thing’: Family Caregivers Managing Medical and Nursing Tasks in the Postacute Home Health Care Setting,” recently published in the Journal of Applied Gerontology.

For the study, 20 caregivers were interviewed on their thoughts and feelings about their roles, their use of home healthcare services and other supportive resources.

Increasingly demanding caregiver roles

Caregivers are frequently in the position of performing complex medical and nursing tasks on patients, such as medication administration and management, surgical wound management, disease monitoring and follow-up care coordination.

The authors (or investigators) contend that more and more, caregivers are caring for people who have acute and unstable conditions, and they are being asked to perform increasingly complex tasks without formal training or support. This increases the risk of a patient’s rehospitalization or emergency room visit.

Caregiver support strategies needed

In the interviews, some caregivers said coordination of home healthcare services was their biggest job, while several expressed frustration with service reductions and conflict with care providers. Additional information about support services also could be better communicated, participants said.

The paper concludes that home health care providers are in a unique position to engage, train and support caregivers, and future research should examine strategies for doing so.