Autologous Stem Cell Transplant Treatment: The caregiver role

The caregiver role is very important and a requirement for all patients treated in the outpatient setting. A stem cell transplant places significant stress and demands on patients and loved ones. Recent studies have shown the benefits of strong support systems to help the patient throughout the transplant process. Some patients have one designated caregiver throughout the transplant process, while some have caregiver responsibilities shared among family members or friends. It is important to consider in advance who would be able to be your caregiver(s) and discuss this with them.
Patients are sometimes away from home, friends and loved ones for long periods of time during treatment. It is often easy to forget that the caregiver is also away from all the familiar people and places that they depend on daily. For the well-being of everyone it is important to realize that the caregiver will need rest and time for relaxation, too. You should plan for time to allow your caregiver to relax and replenish his/her own strength.

To help you select caregivers and to help potential caregivers decide if they should accept this responsibility, a list of typical caregiver responsibilities follows. A caregiver does not need to know how to perform all of these responsibilities in agreeing to be a caregiver. He/she only needs to be willing to learn how to perform them, if necessary.

Typical Caregiver Responsibilities

Making arrangements:
Giving emotional support
Being physically present
Giving encouragement

Providing physical care:
Taking temperature, pulse and blood pressure
Giving injections               
Monitoring food and fluid intake and output               
Performing tasks such as CVC care               
Recording medications taken/administered               
Administering IV fluids and medications using a pump device               
Identifying changes in patient's condition               
Accessing medical care if needed               
Reporting patient's symptoms to health care staff               
Maintaining the home environment:               
Meal planning               
Grocery shopping                
Preparing meals               
Acquiring and maintaining medical supplies               
Helping to keep a restful routine

Patient advocacy:
Gathering information               
Helping with decision-making               
Serving as a communication link with other family members and the transplant team