In For Care

Communication tool helps make conversations with informal caregivers easier

13 December 2018 - Published by Ragni Leifson
The Danish partners of In for Care has learned voluntary workers and employees in the welfare sector how to use a tool to make conversations about health easier. The aim is to create more attention from both volunteers and employees on the wellbeing of informal caregivers.

Danish Marlene Nielsen is 21 years old and comes to the hospital in the city of Esbjerg to talk to and support patients as a volunteer.

Until now her focus has mostly been on the patients. But from now on she will pay more attention to whomever is by the patient’s side. Does the husband look exhausted? Or is the wife not willing to leave the hospital bed and take a break?

Tool makes difficult conversations easier

Informal caregivers are often worn out from taking care of their sick or old family members. A Dutch study shows, that the more someone takes care of their next of kin, the higher is their risk of poor wellbeing.

The Danish part of the project In for Care aims to help both volunteers and employees in the welfare sector to have difficult conversations with informal caregivers, Lone Oest informs. She is consultant at UC SYD, the Danish partner, and conducts the project with consultant Vinie Levisen. They have developed and held a course learning 25 volunteers and employees in the welfare sector to use a communication tool, that can help them to have these difficult conversations.

- Our aim has been to teach them how to use some tools to have conversations concerning health with informal caregivers and to coach them, so they get used to using them, says Lone Oest.

The course focuses on training to use the communication tools. Marlene Nielsen is a volunteer at the hospital in Esbjerg.

Much more insight knowledge

Among the 18 participants was Marlene Nielsen, volunteer at the hospital in Esbjerg. And it worked, she explains:

- I learned a lot. I have gained much more insight knowledge about how it is to be an informal caregiver. We got a lot of tools to help get someone to tell more about themselves. It has helped me to get better at having these conversations, Marlene Nielsen says.

Dorthe Kvistgaard is employed at a senior center and she as well can use the tools she has learned to create better communication with family members of the inhabitants at her workplace.

- We have learned how to ask the right questions and how to behave in a manner to get someone to share their thoughts and concerns. It is a more modern way of talking to someone. It is easier to talk about something difficult, and it makes the conversation lighter and more easygoing. It is a tool that I will use from now on, Dorthe Kvistgaard tells.

Talking about something else

The participants of the course have learned to use different kind of tools, but all the tools have one thing in common: the conversations are based on something other than the difficult situation itself.

- It is our experience, that the conversations get deeper using these tools, consultant at UC SYD Lone Oest explains.