Essential Caregiving Guide: How to Optimize the Extended Care Your Loved One Needs
by Godfrey Harris and Jacqueline Njuki
The Americas Group

"This book is about helping those who help others—the people who selflessly manage the extended caregiving needs of a relative or friend."

Voluntary caregiving for ailing relatives or friends is an activity that has increased greatly in recent years and shows signs of continued growth. AARP statistics project that as many as 117 million people in the United States alone will be in need of some kind of caregiving service in the coming decade. Many of these people will be taken care of in their own homes or in the homes of family members, statistically far more than those who will be occupying standard medical facilities. Harris and Njuki, co-authors of this practical guide for those who offer care, have coined the term “kacipent” that they invite readers to utilize. It is a blending of the words “care” and “recipient” and is seen throughout their book. It seeks to remove the connotation of the person needing care as being either a patient or customer. The authors offer three rules at the outset: consider the kacipient’s needs by major groupings such as medicine, food, etc.; take notes; seek help from others willing to work with you. The most important message is to relax.

Harris and Njuki have created extensive relevant documentation for caregivers, including forms for the kacipient’s personal data, health data, exercise log, daily routine, special events, bathroom routines, communication/entertainment systems, likes and dislikes, calendars (both monthly and yearly), and a caregiver’s activity log. Also included are sample report forms: a record of financial transactions by the caregiver on behalf of the kacipient, possible contingencies (example, electrical outage) with suggestions for mitigating steps, and an overall evaluation to analyze how various aspects of care can be improved through attention to relevant details. These forms are presented with relevant explanations and instructions on how to best use each datasheet.

The authors have clearly dedicated much thoughtful attention to compiling this manual. Harris is a public policy consultant who realized while recuperating from back surgery that caregiving is a special calling requiring the same kinds of organized approaches he has created for businesses and other endeavors. Njuki is a professional and personal caregiver who has worked as a nurse assisting both kacipients recuperating from short-term treatments and also those facing long-term medical challenges. Together, the authors urge their readers, who may be active or potential caregivers, to organize their tasks so that no single aspect of the work will become overwhelming. They advise that such organization must always be geared to the specific kacipient—hence, the inclusion of datasheets concerning the person, his or her family connections, and particular needs and routines. They make an apt comparison between those who offer care to family and friends and those volunteers in the Jewish community who prepare bodies for final interment: both groups do what is needed without requiring a reward.

Harris and Njuki write efficiently, positively, and compassionately. The forms they have created, which comprise a large portion of the book, are readily accessible and could be copied and used by anyone who needs them, whether a professional or an amateur in the field of caregiving. All these forms and the thorough explanations that accompany them are targeted at making the caregiving experience as successful as possible for the givers and the receivers of care.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Return to USR Home