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.