Those who provide care for family members with lymphoma are vital members of the healthcare team. Most caregivers do not have formal training and rely to a great degree on what they learn from the healthcare team. The following principles should serve as a guide to some of the things caregivers need from healthcare professionals.
Caregivers should make notes during conversations with doctors, nurses and pharmacists. They must ask the healthcare professionals to repeat what they have been told to confirm that what they heard is what the doctor indeed meant.
Caregivers need to know how and when to communicate with the healthcare team. The team must provide the numbers where they can be reached: office, answering service, perhaps pager, fax and e-mail address. The doctor should also tell the caregiver what to do when the doctor or on-call doctor cannot be reached.
There is no such thing as an inappropriate question. Write down any questions that arise and present them at the next opportunity. It is better to ask a question than to assume anything.
The healthcare team should let the caregiver know what constitutes an emergency and provide instructions about what to do and whom to notify.
The healthcare team should provide the caregiver with an understanding of the patient’s current physical and emotional condition in terms that you can understand.
The healthcare team should tell the caregiver about any changes that can be anticipated in the foreseeable future. This reduces the likelihood of needless caregiver concern when predicted changes do occur.
The healthcare team should provide the caregiver with a list of what side effects to look for. The healthcare team should indicate when the medications should be given and tell the caregiver to request prescription refills before the weekend.