Caregiver Wellness U Model
Empowering you to Achieve Optimum Wellness
Caregiver wellness is more than making sure you are physically and emotionally healthy. In fact, research from the "Caregiver Wellness Survey", a national survey of family and professional caregivers, suggests that there are at least nine important and unique characteristics shared by caregivers who provide the best possible care for themselves while also caring for loved ones.
The Caregiver Wellness: U Model
How the Caregiving Trajectories & Caregiver Wellness "U" Model Intersect
According to the Caregiver "U" Model, low-level wellness or distress is most always synonymous with crisis situations, care transitions, induction to caregiving, post-caregiving, & bereavement.
Communication & Getting Organized is Important as you Prepare Care
Please visit the 5 steps to create your Caregiver Support Action Plan. These tools offer the opportunity to build a strong foundation to reduce caregiver distress while helping loved ones remain in the comfort of their homes.
What makes the Caregiver Wellness: U Model different from other Models?
There are two well-known models that have been applied to caregivers Myer's Wheel of Wellness (a general counseling model) and Gerlarin's Family Caregiver Wellness model (a career counseling model). While each model can be useful, neither was designed specifically to empower caregivers to act to care for themselves. The Caregiver Wellness: U model is focuses on two key components: (a) caregivers being empowered and (b) being resilient. The model is applicable to caregivers regardless of the diagnosis of their loved one. The goal of the U Model is to express the importance translating self-care into actionable steps for empowered caregivers. Rather than focus on where one is lacking it is important to first acknowledge what is being done right. Caregivers are thus encouraged to build upon their strengths and keep working to reach optimal wellness for themselves and their loved one.
Caregiver Wellness: U Model
With these components in mind, the "Caregiver Wellness: U Model" is a conceptual model aimed at empowering you, the caregiver, to take a strength-based approach to improving your wellness and increasing your capacity to care for your loved one. The nine components of the "Caregiver Wellness: U Model" include social, psychological, physical intellectual, spiritual, occupational and financial wellness, while also incorporating the empowerment and resilience, or flexibility, necessary for you to take charge of your health on a holistic basis. Rather than look at - and achieve - each wellness factor in order, the components are designed to complement each other and represent a collective whole. In other words, at the core of this model is the belief that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. In addition, caregiver wellness stresses the importance of viewing wellness as an ongoing process - a work in progress. As a caregiver, your role is likely to continue to evolve as your loved one's needs change. Therefore, you must repeatedly re-evaluate your state of wellness, acknowledge your strengths and keep on working toward the best possible wellness.
Low-level wellness or distress is almost always synonymous with crisis situations, care transitions, or induction to caregiving (i.e., when you first called to care for a sick or disabled loved one). Although, each of the pieces to the puzzle is present in the wellness model when the caregiver is in distress, none of the pieces connect. Low-level wellness or caregiver distress will likely continue until the caregiver is empowered to reach out for help with caregiving (help may come from a health care professional, friend, or family member). There is no set time frame, however, for the caregiver to move from distress to manageable stress (medium-level wellness); there must workable solutions, access to information and resources, and intervention strategies deemed helpful by the caregiver. Low-level wellness is not healthy for the caregiver or the caregiver's loved one. We hypothesize that the movement from low-level to medium-level wellness is dependent on the caregiver being empowered to seek assistance or ask for help.
The movement from low-level wellness to medium-level wellness is precipitated by the caregiver being empowered to reach out for and accept assistance and is accompanied by resilience (or the act of making adjustments). According to the model, once a caregiver reaches medium-level wellness, the puzzle pieces representing empowerment and resilience are connected. The now resilient and empowered caregiver takes self-responsibility, which is evidenced by the actions of making adjustments and accessing services needed for the benefit of the caregiver and his or her loved one. It should be noted that the stress that accompanies medium-level wellness may not be immediately relieved until there is a level of comfort with interventions and supports accessed by the caregiver. For example, if the home care agency is not dependable or there is a sudden change in the mental or physical status of a loved one, a caregiver may return to a stressful situation until he or she is once again empowered to seek additional assistance and support. We hypothesize that the movement to medium-level wellness is dependent on the caregiver being empowered to seek assistance with caregiving and being resilient in trying new approaches to the caregiving situation.
High Level Wellness
The term optimum wellness refers to the movement from medium-level wellness to high wellness. Once adequate supports for a sick or disabled loved one are in place, the caregiver has the opportunity to move from stress to optimum wellness by continuing to place emphasis on integrating each of the components of wellness. It is important to stress that integration to optimum wellness is a process that will take time; it is not recommended that the integration occur at once, nor is it likely to. We hypothesize that the movement to optimum wellness is dependent on the integration of empowerment, resilience, and reaching a point of stability with physical, social, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and fiscal wellness.
Achieving optimum-level wellness is a process that will take time; it is not recommended that the integration occur at once, nor is it likely to. The best strategy is to place continuing emphasis on putting together all of the pieces until the puzzle is complete.