When we begin to focus on Elders as people who continue to "grow and become," we open to what they have to offer us. Seeing Elders as mentors with something to give helps us make the leap from caregiving... to care partnering. When those usually described as care receivers learn they have something to give - and there is always some way that they can, no matter how subtle -and those usually described as care givers deeply acknowledge the ways that they receive from care receivers, some amazing shifts occur in the care dynamic. They become Care Partners."
Instead of seeing the needs of 'caregivers' as separate from the needs of 'care receivers,' we need to focus on the well-being of the whole care partnership. At the Eden Alternative, we firmly believe that words make worlds. Like the term 'Elder,' the phrase 'Care Partner' is an excellent example of the transformative power of choosing our language carefully. As a concept, care partnership evens the playing field, as it is often easy to get trapped in a one-dimensional experience of care. With this in mind, teams must fully appreciate what it means to be a care partner team. The term "care partner" should never be used simply as a politically-correct replacement for the words "staff" or "aide" or "caregiver/care receiver." Care partnership encompasses so much more, both in nursing homes and out in the larger community.
By our definition, a care partner team is composed of the following care partners: the Elder herself; those care partners who work with her, whether they work in a nursing home or through home health support; her family members, friends, volunteers, and any other health professionals that collaborate with her. Care partnering implies a balance of care, that opportunities to give as well as receive are abundant and experienced by everyone involved in the care relationship in every moment. To deepen the experience of care partnership, consider holding Learning Circles on the subject that bring Elders and all of their care partners together.
From the Eden Alternative Tip of the Week, 7/11/2010
Understanding Care Partnership