Coping With Emotions

Managing Multiple Caregivers: When There Are Too Many Caregivers in the Hospital Suite

Multiple caregivers can be a blessing and a challenge.

It’s a good problem to have, when so many people want to lend a helping hand during your cancer treatment, but it has the potential for chaos. Managing multiple caregivers can be stressful, and with so many strong emotions involved, it can lead to power struggles among the loved ones trying to be there for you. Here are a few ways to help ease tension.

Managing Your Support Team

Your loved ones likely have a wide range of skills they can put to use during your treatment regimen, and you probably have a number of areas where you could use some help. The trick is to get the right help at the right time, and make sure all the gaps are covered.

Whether they are willing to babysit, clean the house, bring meals, provide transportation or help in any other capacity, there is a need to match the task with the provider. If five people bring meals on the same day, some of that food will go to waste. You need a schedule.

Websites such as Lotsa Helping Hands can provide you with the means to schedule what kind of help you need, and people can sign up to take those shifts. If you need a babysitter and a ride to treatment on Tuesday afternoon, your team can log in to the private portal and sign up to cover it. With a portal like this, you don’t need to keep all those details in your head, and your caregivers can easily see what needs to happen and make sure everything is covered.

Maintaining Communication

Keeping key players in the loop on your condition and treatment plan can help them to feel included and that they are an important part of your care team. Unfortunately, maintaining communication can be exhausting. Consider nominating someone to be the point person for maintaining communication with your friends and family members. You may feel like managing that process yourself much of the time, but if you have a process set up in advance, they can just step in and handle communication as needed.

Whether it’s a phone tree, email, Facebook or a blog, if your appointed person is equipped with passwords and permissions, they can efficiently share news with caregivers. This is especially helpful when loved ones are waiting for news after a surgery, or if you have not been feeling well enough to update for some time.

Making Medical Decisions

Your loved ones may have strong feelings about your medical decisions, and they may, to varying degrees, exert some pressure on you about these decisions. This is where you need to be especially resolute in your boundaries. They love you, but this is your life, your body and your choice. They need to respect you and your decisions.

There may also come a point when you are unable to make a care decision for yourself. Advance care planning can help assure family members of your wishes, and designate an individual to make these decisions on your behalf. When this is planned out ahead of time, it is much easier for other caretakers to honor this process.

Managing multiple caregivers can be challenging. Planning ahead or addressing any issues early on, however, can pull your caregivers together into a team that can be a feel-good part of the cancer experience.

UVA Cancer Center offers support services, like chaplaincy and counseling, that can help you and your caregivers address issues and emotions that arise during cancer treatment.

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Judy Schwartz Haley
Judy Schwartz Haley