Do They Know Your Name?

Carol Levine, a former family caregiver, wrote an opinion piece yesterday called “Health Care Typecasting—”Nobody Knows My Name!”. She writes:

I’ve been professionally and personally involved in caregiving for the past 20 years. In that time many family members have told me, “I’m invisible in the hospital/nursing home/rehab facility.”

“Invisible,” that is, until it’s time for discharge, payment, or major decisions. Then the family member morphs into someone with a name, except it’s not a first name or a full name. And it’s generally not “Sweetie” or “Honey.”  It’s “The Wife,” “The Daughter,” “The Son,”  “The Friend.”  Typecasting is a convenient way for professionals to distance themselves from the individual who is not their patient, but who makes demands on their time and attention. The relationship between family members and the patient’s health care team is ambiguous, sometimes collaborative but often full of conflict.

To combat the conflict, Levine suggests:

Just as health care professionals are supposed to introduce themselves to every patient, family caregivers should introduce themselves to everyone who plays a role in patient care.  “My name is _________.  I am _________’s ____________ and also his/her family caregiver.  Let’s talk.”   Having a name and an identity will not guarantee an effective working relationship with professionals, but it’s a good start.

I’d love to know your experiences. Do health care providers take time to know your name? And, do you introduce yourself as Carol suggests above? Please share in our comments section below.

Enhanced by Zemanta
Avatar of Denise

About Denise Brown

I began working with family caregivers in 1990 and launched in 1996 to help and support them. Through my blog, I share words of comfort and offer coping strategies and tips. I also write opinion pieces about recent research, community programs and media coverage of caregiving issues. I've written several caregiving books, including "The Caregiving Years, Six Stages to a Meaningful Journey," "Take Comfort, Reflections of Hope for Caregivers" and "After Caregiving Ends, A Guide to Beginning Again." You can purchase my books and schedule a coaching call with me in our store.

2 thoughts on “Do They Know Your Name?

  1. Karen

    I have always made it a point to introduce myself to health care providers, include my relationship and why I am there. I try to let my mother (and earlier, my brother) talk with the health care provider. However, I jump in as necessary and warranted: to add information left out, to explain, or just to be an advocate. If anyone who has treated them or myself poorly, with arrogance or neglect, we have dropped them immediately.

  2. Kathy

    I introduce myself after they have spoken to Hubby. I let them know my relationship, my role as caregiver/guardian. I tell them his diagnosis of Lewy Body Dementia and ask them if they are familiar with it and even if they say yes I still say, Oh Good, then you know it’s…and I proceed to remind them. Just in case they need a refresher.

    I have to say I’ve been pretty fortunate in that the professionals know who I am and willingly work with me. It’s just the Hubby that doesn’t.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>