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Caregivers Count Too! – Section 2: Misperceptions in the Assessment Process

Commonly held misperceptions about including family members in the assessment process stand in the way of recognizing, understanding and meeting caregivers’ needs. Some of these are:



1. The caregiver isn’t my client. Besides, this would be an intrusion into the caregiver’s time and privacy.

Illness is a “family affair.” Most caregivers appreciate the assessment process and view it as an opportunity to express their own needs and have their situation taken seriously.

2. If I talk to family members, I won’t have time to complete my other responsibilities.

Assessments need not be lengthy or duplicate information already collected. Done correctly, the assessment process results in a more efficient use of time. Caregivers may provide significant insight into the patient’s situation, identify important issues that might have been overlooked and improve the focus of information collected.

3. I won’t have the answers or resources to deal with a caregiver’s additional issues.


Avoiding or excluding caregiver issues leads to a bigger problem. It is possible to work creatively with caregivers to tailor use of limited resources, the most important thing is that the caregiver feels listened to and acknowledged.

4. The assessment process will interfere with the natural flow of the clinical process and get in the way of my ability to develop a trusting rapport.


An assessment tool is a framework to guide the conversation and assure that vital information is collected consistently. However, the clinician does not have to rigidly follow the order and wording, or ask a question that does not apply.

5. Assessments are only used for research purposes and don’t help a person who needs services.


When linked to a care plan with service interventions, assessment can point to particular services; reassessment can track progress and identify needed changes to the interventions.


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