Caregiver Team Planning: How to Make it Work

Caregiver team planning

If you work with seniors, you no doubt need to know how to do caregiver team planning.  When a patient requires around the clock care, it is impossible for one person to be with him or her every waking moment. For these cases, caregiving team planning is necessary. Working as a team can present some challenges that need to be effectively navigated in order for the patient and team to reap the benefits of a well-oiled unit working together.

Identifying the Common Goal 

Making caregiving team planning work involves setting a goal.  It is similar to no other team effort in which a common goal must be shared in order for everyone to be working towards the same end result. It isn’t as simple as making sure the patient is comfortable. The patient may need to be kept safe and to have physical and emotional health tended to as well. Whatever the scenario may be, working together can only be accomplished by identifying common goals set forth by physicians and family members and how those goals will be reached by all team members.

It should be the number one priority to establish from the outset what the treatment goals for the patient are …

According to a study published in the American Journal of Medicine, agreeing on common treatment goals can be difficult to accomplish. Yet without such streamlined treatment aims, the potential for diminished health outcomes may increase. It should be the number one priority when doing caregiver team planning to establish from the outset what the treatment goals for the patient are to be in order to achieve the highest level of patient care as possible.

Physicians constantly get training on team planning but caregivers are not always trained on how to do effective caregiver team planning.

Communications Efforts Among the Caregiving Team 

The level of facilitated agreement is directly related to the team’s ability to work together. Being prepared for anything allows for a level of calm amidst an unexpected storm. Being able to pick up where the other caregiver left off, trusting their professionalism, and ensuring details are communicated effectively will allow the team to function as a whole. Here are some of the best ways to improve communication between team members:

  • Keep a logged record of necessary information such as medications, vitals, and milestones there on site to be reviewed at each shift change.
  • Encourage the patient (if possible) and family caregivers to keep valuable records when the team is not present
  • Integrate the use of technology when possible
  • Track medications carefully using highly organized and safe methods
  • Hold regular meetings to ensure everyone is on the same track. 
  • Keep a journal of meals, behaviors, activities

The SBAR Technique 

The Georgetown University School of Nursing and Health Studies has discovered a technique that is showing promising results when it comes to improving communication between caregivers. The SBAR (Situation, Background, Assessment, and Recommendation) tool is being used in a role-playing scenario. When role-playing was used, the students had significantly higher performance results than those with instruction alone. Could this study imply there is a benefit to role-playing possible scenarios for professional caregivers on a team? It makes sense when you consider the role that fire drills play in safely evacuating people from a burning building and dress rehearsals before a big recital.

As a professional caregiver, you simply cannot communicate too much. If you have a question, it is best to ask rather than to assume. Effective caregivers should understand how important it is for everyone to be on the same page and set aside any preconceived notions. Any conflict between caregiving members on a team should be quickly settled so as not to diminish the service provided. Each day presents unexpected circumstances that a solid team needs to be prepared to face. 

Caregiving Team Planning: Providing High Level of Service is the Goal 

Continuing education and professional development is something every caregiver should be aware of the need for. As medical technology is rapidly changing, new medications with fewer side effects are being released, and better understanding of disease progressions arises. This means that the face of effective caregiving evolves as well.

Caregiver team planning also requires ensuring that the team stays educated and informed.  When team members are up to date on current techniques they can foster the highest quality of life for their elderly patients while reducing conflict among themselves.

Setting aside personal differences between different professional caregivers on the same team and focusing on proper techniques is vital to accomplishing the goals set forth in the patient’s treatment plan. When the team is able to work together effectively towards clearly communicated common goals, better care is delivered to the patient and the family of the patient. Families are better respected and given the proper technical care and support they deserve during difficult times.



Bogardus, S. T., Bradley, E. H., Williams, C. S., Maciejewski, P. K., van Doom, C., Inouye, S.K. (2001). Goals for the Care of Frail Older Adults: Do Caregivers and Clinicians Agree? American Journal of Medicine 110(2): 97-102. Abstract available at Retrieved 1/18/2016.

Kesten, KS. (2011). Role-play Using SBAR technique to Improve Observed Communication Skills in Nursing Students. The Journal of Nursing Education. Available at Retrieved 1/18/2016.