Developing Your Care Team When You Live With Chronic Illness

A “Care Team” is a group of diverse care providers that gather around a client or patient to ensure their holistic needs are met. This can include family, friends, doctors, therapists and homeopathy. For some, it may also include a faith leader. I like to include my dogs as they are a source of tremendous joy and comfort.

Think of your Care Team as your Board of Directors. They are invested in you. They want to see you succeed in your wellness and recovery. And they are experts in their respected field.

However, you are the expert in you. You are the Board Chair.

As Chair, it is important that you (or your designate) ensure that all involved are in communication.

This is often easier said than done, as I am living with chronic Lyme and my symptoms are many and varied.

But I ensure that all doctors have copies of my lab work and other test results. I also provide them each with a complete list of all my medications. Your pharmacist can help you with that (and they too are on your Board!). I have also been known to print up copies of the latest medical journal articles on my illness and I share them with all of my caregivers.

Another piece of advice: keep engaged. I often find that a referral to a specialist may be delayed or lost if I don’t keep track and follow up. I take notes during my appointments or record the appointment using my cell phone. I introduce myself to the medical office manager as they are the backbone of the business for the doctor and are the ones facilitating referrals and paperwork. They are an important member of your Board.

Your family and friends are often the most important member of your care team. They see you more often than the medical professionals and can speak to daily symptoms that you may be missing. Family and friends (even the furry ones) are also your source of support.

I have learned the hard way that if you or a loved one does not assume the role of lead in the development and maintenance of the care team it is often a missed opportunity to positively improve your health care.

Who is on your Board of Directors?

Getty Image by Glopphy

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