In the United States, over 50 million family caregivers provide care to older adults. Although these caregivers are an essential part of the health care system, they are often not integrated fully into health care teams, nor given the support they need to provide the best care. To address this issue, recent research has developed a curriculum for clinical education called the Interprofessional Family Caregiving Competencies. This framework helps teach current and future clinicians how to partner with caregivers and improve caregivers’ knowledge and abilities.
A total of 21 competencies were developed for this clinical education curriculum. These 21 skills and abilities were formed based on literature reviews and input from professionals with expertise in aging, caregiving, clinical education, and research. The researchers categorized these competencies under four domains. The first domain helps healthcare professionals gain a better general understanding of caregiving. Domain two teaches clinicians how to assess and understand caregiving situations. The third domain emphasizes the skills needed to partner with caregivers in a family-centered approach. Finally, the fourth domain focuses on the need to consider individual and contextual factors in order to fully understand each unique caregiving situation. Adding these competencies as guidelines within clinical education is essential to fostering a strong relationship among caregivers, care recipients, and health care teams.
Helping clinicians grow in these skills not only enhances these caregiving relationships, but also improves caregiver well-being and the quality of care that older adults receive. With more research, this curriculum could one day be applied to other types of caregiving aside from care for older adults. Continuing to develop this type of curriculum could also increase acceptance of the idea that caregivers should be treated not as just a tool for health care providers, but as a partner.
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Harvath, T., Mongoven, J., Sexson, K., & Bettega, K. (2022). Development of competencies to strengthen support for caregivers and enhance their capacity to provide care. Gerontology & Geriatrics Education, 1–5. https://doi.org/10.1080/02701960.2022.2083117