Caring for Caregivers

Family-centered care embraces the critical role that parents play in all areas of a child’s physical and emotional health, development and learning. Recognized as “best practice,” family-centered care recognizes parents as valued partners. It involves parents in the care of their child, and is respectful and supportive. Family-centered care helps parents to feel understood and appreciated. It also forges trusting relationships.

An understanding of chronic sorrow allows healthcare providers to better appreciate how individuals react to ongoing losses. When healthcare providers understand the signs of chronic sorrow, they can give support and guidance. This may help parents be better able to cope with ongoing stressors. Here are some strategies for taking care of caregivers who are dealing with chronic sorrow:

  • Recognize that anger, frustration and confusion are common emotions expressed by parents and caregivers. See the Recognizing the Signs page.
  • Tell parents that certain, predictable situations may trigger feelings of sadness.
  • Provide empathy and support by taking the time to listen to parents and offer reassurance. Complement the good work caregivers do and show appreciation for their role. Be compassionate and non-judgmental. Show a willingness to share their journey.
  • Support parents and caregivers with hope and optimism. Parents ask that healthcare providers not only see all that their child will never do, but celebrate hope for healing, health and life itself.
  • Remind parents that caregiving is not a “sprint,” but a long-term “marathon” and that it is important to strengthen their coping skills along the way.