Written Instructions of Your Loved One's Routine
There are many circumstances where written instructions of your loved one’s routine can be very useful. For example:
- You care for a parent or relative who suffers from dementia and is confused if asked what help is required.
- Your loved one has recently come out of hospital and needs a lot of sleep to recuperate.
- You look after a friend or relative who has a disability that makes it difficult for them to explain what help is needed.
- You care for someone who has suffered a stroke that has affected their speech.
- Your loved one is in the latter stages of a neurological condition such as Multiple Sclerosis that has affected their short-term memory.
- You look after a young child who is unable to articulate their needs.
If any of the above sounds familiar, there will be times when either through desire, demands from other members of the family or work commitments, you need to rely on others to care for your loved one. If you put together some comprehensive written instructions on their daily routine, life will be easier for all concerned.
Working Out the Routine
Over a period of a week or so, keep a log of exactly what you do for your loved one including their likes and dislikes of food, drinks, TV or radio programmes and clothes. In addition, make a note of any medication and what time they like to get up, eat, drink, use the toilet and go to bed at night. If they suffer with disturbed sleep patterns, include details about this too.
Once all the information is to hand, you should get hold of a large hard-backed record book – they can be easily purchased in a good stationers.
Drawing Up the Instructions
At the beginning of the book, you need to write a description of your loved one’s character explaining what they like or dislike. If possible, involve them in working out what sort of things should be included – you may discover that at night they would prefer a cup of hot chocolate rather than the tea you have habitually made for them. Leave a couple of pages clear after this initial description in case you want to add things at a later date.
On the following page, write tomorrow’s date at the top and divide the page vertically into four columns. In the left hand column, write a list of all tasks that need to be done in order, every day (for example: shower, dress, hot drink, medication, breakfast, clean teeth, toilet, comb hair, coffee and biscuits). The next column is to left clear for a tick to be added when that task has been achieved; the following column is left clear for the time it was done to be added and the final column is left clear for any comments, such as ‘seemed tired,’ ‘had headache’,‘not hungry’ or ‘ate well.’
Advantages of Instruction Log
Not only does the book act as a list of instructions for a different carer, it also acts as a reminder for yourself. When you are busy with your own life and perhaps those of other members of the family, it can be easy to overlook a little task in your loved one’s daily routine.
Also, this book becomes a record of your loved one’s general health. You will discover if they are becoming more tired, hungry or unwell over a period of time. If you worry about what they eat – whether they are eating too much or too little - you could add a regular weigh-in onto the routine. By noting down their weight each week you and health professionals will have a good indication of how well you and they are keeping on top of your loved one’s general health, diet and exercise regime.
It may take a little time and effort to initially get into the habit of using and updating the instruction log, but you will soon come to appreciate its value.