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  • 16 May 2022
  • 2 years

Making Caregiving Decisions

Tim Docil

Daily Living Consultant

Making caregiving decisions for a family member is an involved process. Some of the numerous factors can be relatively straightforward, such as the immediate physical needs of the family member. Other factors may be subtle, such as the family member’s need for social interaction or their need for a sense of agency in their caregiving decisions.

Factors, such as the accessibility of healthcare facilities and professionals, can also influence the context in which caregiving decisions are made. Additionally, when making caregiving decisions for a family member, the knowledge and experience that the family has with healthcare services and resources may be the difference between finding the proper form of care and letting an opportunity pass by unnoticed.

In order to access the most knowledge and experience, two crucial resources may be available to families:

1. A trusted family doctor or general practitioner

2. A patient advocate or healthcare advocate

A local Area Agency on Aging is another noteworthy resource that may be available to families; however, these agencies specialize in matters concerning older adults and may not be able to meet the needs of all potential healthcare recipients. These resources are among the best general resources that can further guide families toward more specialized forms of care that are appropriate for their particular situation.

Access to healthcare knowledge and experience may be one of the most important factors in making healthcare decisions for a family member, but it is not the only crucially important factor. The ability to collaborate well may be another crucially important factor in making healthcare decisions. Without collaboration, a family or healthcare team may not be able to make the best healthcare decisions or make decisions at all. Without collaboration, a family or healthcare team may not be able to become more than the sum of their individual assets. If family tension or conflict around making healthcare decisions is of serious concern, a mediator may be available in the community to help facilitate discussions for a service fee.

Mediation and healthcare services can quickly become costly endeavors. In order to alleviate some of the potential financial and emotional costs of family conflict, it may be a good idea for family members to sincerely try strategies and practices that foster healthy collaboration before employing a mediator.

Daniel Coyle has researched and interviewed some of the best teams and organizations in the world. From sports teams to Navy SEALs to jewelry thieves, the book The Culture Code explores what patterns are shared among the most cooperative groups in the world. These patterns of behavior overlap and repeat over and over to create a tapestry that captures the narrative that these groups form. These narratives become the basis of a culture of teamwork and excellence. The first question that forms the group’s narrative is, “are we safe here?” This is really a question of trust among group members. When it comes to healthcare, a care recipient must trust the care deciders and the care deciders must trust the care providers otherwise the structure is almost guaranteed to collapse.

Included below are three of the behaviors that Daniel Coyle sees among group members in what he calls “high-purpose environments.” It may benefit family members to encourage these behaviors between each other and observe if potential healthcare providers exhibit these traits:

1. Overcommunicate Listening. This involves many behaviors, including eye-contact, small nods, and noises of affirmation. If someone is thinking of the next thing they want to say, they are not listening. Healthy groups overcommunicate listening because they want to show their members that their opinions matter.

2. Spotlight Your Fallibility Early On, Especially if You’re a Leader. Each weakness may be an opportunity for the group to overcome a challenge and foster trust. This practice is invaluable when building a habit for finding solutions.

3. Capitalize on Threshold Moments. Celebrating progress or successes or being compassionate when someone reveals a vulnerability identifies remarkable moments in a group’s narrative. Progress and successes may happen, but if no one takes the time to appreciate them, a group may be less likely to believe in their abilities or each other due to a perceived lack of evidence.

With these behaviors in mind, a family may be ready to make caregiving decisions for a family member. But before charging into the situation blindly, it may benefit the group to have a plan by asking these four questions:

  1. What are our intended results?
  2. What challenges can we anticipate?
  3. What have we or others learned from similar situations?
  4. What will make us successful this time?

With a knowledgeable, experienced, and collaborative team available to them, a healthcare recipient, and their family, can trust that they are in good hands.

Workplace Options helps employees balance their work, family, and personal needs to become healthier, happier, and more productive, both personally and professionally. The company’s world-class employee support, effectiveness, and wellbeing services provide information, resources, referrals, and consultation on a variety of issues ranging from dependent care and stress management to clinical services and wellness programs. To learn more email us at

Disclaimer: This document is intended for general information only. It does not provide the reader with specific direction, advice, or recommendations. You may wish to contact an appropriate professional for questions concerning your particular situation.


Coyle, D. (2018). The culture code: the secrets of highly successful groups. New York: Bantam Books.

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