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Caregivers Count Too! Section 3: Who Should Conduct a Family Caregiver Assessment?

Who Should Conduct a Family Caregiver Assessment?

A range of professionals can conduct a caregiver assessment including:

  • Social Workers
  • Care Managers
  • Nurses
  • Physicians
  • Rehabilitation Professionals
    • i.e., Physical Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists

What Special Training is Needed?

Social service and health care professionals need to know how the assessment process guides and informs their work with the family. Caregiver assessment allows caregivers to “tell their stories” to describe their caregiving situation.  However, caregiver assessment is only a tool, not an end in itself. For assessment to matter, the conversation with the caregiver and the information collected must be valued by the practitioner and linked to care planning and what the caregiver wants to happen.

To conduct assessments professionals need to know how to complete forms (increasingly entered online as part of electronic records), and calculate and interpret scores when using standardized measures.  They also need to know how to develop a rapport to begin the assessment process, gather information and ask questions, and probe for clarification.  When doing caregiver assessments it is also important to recognize and respect diversity and cultural issues, as well as the needs of the caregiver and the care recipient.


Here’s what it takes:

Knowledge about …

  • Purpose of the assessment
  • Self-determination versus safety issues
  • Mental health, aging, life-span development issues
  • Family systems perspective and conflict resolution
  • Resources and brokering, building a community care support network
  • Consumer-driven model, the importance of caregiver participation and the strengths-based perspective

Abilities to …

  • Buy-in to the purpose of assessment
  • Listen
  • Deal with emotional content
  • Be sensitive to differences in framing questions around culture, religion, age, etc.
  • Empathize with the caregiver
  • Understand what you know, what you do not and when to hand off
  • Have comfort with an educational and self-management approach
  • Be aware of personal biases and strong opinions and keep these in check

Skills for …

  • Communicating the purpose of assessment to the caregiver
  • Interviewing
  • Engagement, particularly with people who are not asking for help
  • Disseminating information clearly, appropriately and as needed to connect to the care plan


Things to Keep in Mind:

  • Professional differences exist in the approach to assessment. These differences can be strengths that benefit the family.
  • Working as a team and focusing on the “consumer” (i.e. the caregiver) can bridge professional differences. The family comes out ahead!
  • Different techniques, such as direct observation, clinical interview and questionnaires can be used to obtain information.
  • Consider whether certain parts of the assessment can be self-administered by caregivers.
  • Practitioners who complete assessments should receive adequate training, supervision and feedback on a regular basis about: how to conduct systematic assessments of caregiver needs, how to use specific tools and measures, how to interpret the information collected, and how to work with the family to develop a care plan.

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